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Coronavirus | Delhi HC anguished over shortage of vaccines in India

The high court directed the Centre to release arbitral award of over ₹14 crore along with interest from 2012 to Panacea Biotec for manufacturing Sputnik V vaccine in India.

The Delhi High Court on Friday expressed anguish over the way things have transpired in the second wave of COVID-19 where vaccine shortage is hitting everyone even when the Central government says the best way to fight the pandemic is to vaccinate the entire population.

The high court was deliberating with the issue related to manufacturing of COVID vaccine Sputnik V by India’s Panacea Biotec in collaboration with Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF).

The high court directed the Centre to release arbitral award of over ₹14 crore along with interest from 2012 to Panacea Biotec for manufacturing Sputnik V vaccine in India subject to the condition that the company obtains permission from the government to manufacture the vaccine.

A bench of Justices Manmohan and Najmi Waziri said the release of the amount, awarded to the company by the arbitral tribunal, will also be subject to the undertaking of the firm that 20% of its sale proceeds of Sputnik V will be deposited with the court’s registry till the awarded amount is secured.

“Today, we are a bit anguished with the way things have transpired during the second wave. As a responsible citizen you also would be anguished. Vaccine shortage is hitting each and everyone. Even today vaccine is not available in Delhi… You have good products in India, a little handholding will work,” the bench said.

It added that someone from Russia has been able to locate infrastructure in Himachal Pradesh but the Centre has failed to do so.

The high court’s order came on a plea of Delhi-based Panacea Biotec seeking to modify a July 2020 order, by which the firm had undertaken not to prosecute further the execution proceedings instituted by them in relation to an arbitral award, running into crores of rupees, passed in its favour and against the Centre.

The company, in its fresh application, sought release of the arbitral award saying it needs funds at the earliest in the larger interest of humanity as it has already manufactured trial batches of COVID vaccine Sputnik V in collaboration with RDIF and the process of manufacturing scale-up batches is on.

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