Delhi High Court Suggests Waiving ‘Bridge Trials’ of the Vaccine

Facts of the Case

On 18th March 2020, the Appellant-Non Applicant’s application was rejected on the grounds of delay and, that the period of limitation had expired before the appeal was re-filed with the copy of the award. It was later unearthed that the appeal was filed well within its period of limitation. In the meantime, the Respondent-Applicant had stated that they would not prosecute the execution proceedings instituted by them. Subsequently, they also filed the present application, asking for modification in the interim order which was meant to direct the Appellant to release the award money along with interest within two weeks. The Respondent-Applicant stated that they had produced trial batches of Sputnik-V in collaboration with the Russian Direct Investment Fund (hereinafter RDIF), and to be able to produce the scale-up batches and avoid damage to the country’s interest they required the awarded money. To this, the learned ASG, present on behalf of the Appellant stated that the production of the vaccine in question was for global supply and not for domestic use. In the present application, the Court had directed both the parties to examine the issue at hand in the backdrop of the availability of vaccines in the country and complete the pleadings. However, both parties failed to reach an amicable solution.

Submission on behalf of Appellant- Non Applicant

ASG strongly contended that the awarded amount could not be integrated with this appeal and was unrelated. They further argued that the Respondent Applicant was being privately funded under a private contract, even though the issue of procurement, manufacturing, distribution, and payments of all available vaccines were pending before the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India. He emphasized that the emergency waiver for Sputnik-V vaccines imported through Dr Reddy’s Laboratory was not applicable since the Respondent-Applicant was at least one month away from the commercial production since the efficiency and ethnic test were yet to be complied with.

Submission on behalf of Respondent-Applicant 

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The learned counsel for Respondent-Applicant stated that they had been granted the technology to manufacture Sputnik-V – which was nothing but a replica of the Russian vaccine imported in India by Dr Reddy’s laboratory which had received emergency authorization since 1st June 2021, through RDIF’s Affiliate Company “LLC Human Vaccine”. They further stated that the amount advanced by HV only partially fulfilled the fund required to continue manufacturing the vaccine. To protect the interest of the Appellant, the respondent-Applicant also stated that they shall submit twenty per cent of the sale proceeds with the Registry of Court till the awarded amount was secured subject to the decision of the Court.

Court’s Decision 

The application was allowed and the Appellant was directed to release the Awarded sum along with interest as directed by the learned Arbitrator to the Respondent-Applicant (who was successful before the learned Arbitrator and the learned Single Judge) subject to the condition that it obtained permission from the Appellant to manufacture Sputnik-V vaccines in India.

Analysis

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It was reiterated that Courts always had the power to vary or modify any interim order for a good and cognizant reason. Respondent-Applicant, whose case stood on a higher pedestal, was entitled to and there was no legal bar in directing the release of the awarded sum subject to the condition that it obtained permission from the Appellant to manufacture vaccines. The Court further observed that claiming the production of vaccine being carried in question was for global supplies, thus could not be used domestically, especially at a time of severe crisis was not maintainable and it was also suggested to waive Bridge Trials in light of vaccine position in the country but since no specific prayer was sought in this regard, the Court simply directed the Appellant to consider Respondent-Applicant’s application for emergency use and authorization.

Click here to see Judgment.


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