The Central government has filed an appeal against a single-judge order of Kerala High Court which had ruled that individuals who pay for Covishield vaccine have the right to choose whether to get the second dose any time after four weeks from the first dose but before the 84-day interval prescribed by the Central Government (The Secretary to Government of India v. Kitex Garments Limited)..The appeal which would be heard by a Division Bench of the High Court said that the single-judge decision is against the settled position that courts do not meddle with policy decisions of the government."The precedent if allowed to stay would set at naught the national policy for administration of vaccine and would cause serious prejudice for the larger segment. The judgment would militate against the settled position that in matters related to government supported by scientific study, the Court shall not meddle with or substitute its view with the view of the administration," the plea said..Single judge Justice PB Suresh Kumar had, on September 3, passed orders allowing early administration of the second dose in case of paid jabs, noting that the fact that vaccination is voluntary indicates that the interval required by the government can only be considered as advisory."The fact that the vaccination is voluntary and there is no compulsion on anyone to accept the same is declared by the Government of India in the website of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. If that be so, the requirement to administer two doses of the vaccine and the time interval between the two doses for better protection from infection can only be considered as advisory", the single-judge had said.Therefore, he held that there is no reason for the State to stand in the way especially considering its own policy that people shall have the choice to get early vaccine by paying for it at private hospitals."It is all the more so since the policy of the Central Government itself is, as discernible from the website of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, that the people shall have the choice to get early vaccination, for the implementation of which vaccine is being distributed on payment of its cost through private hospitals as well," the order stated.The Court had, therefore, directed the Centre to immediately make necessary provisions in the CoWIN portal, so as to enable scheduling of second dose of Covishield vaccine after four weeks of the first dose for those who want to accept the second dose after a period of four weeks in terms of the initial protocol of the vaccine.The Court passed the order keeping in mind the fact that the Central government had relaxed the interval for Indian government officials with commitments abroad, persons needing to travel abroad for studies or employment, those participating at the Olympic Games etc.The order was passed by the single-judge on a plea by Kitex Garments Limited seeking to administer the second dose of COVID vaccine to its employees without waiting for the 84-day time gap between two doses as they had already purchased the sufficient stock of vaccine.The Central government in its appeal stated that the dose interval has been revised several times based on emerging scientific evidence with the guidance of the National Expert group on Vaccine Administration for Covid-19 (NEGVAC).The present interval has been set on the technical opinion of NEGVAC that the duration of 84 days between doses would provide best protection against the virus.The National COVID-19 Vaccination Program, the largest of its kind in the world, is being guided by science and domain experts, the appeal claimed. If the single-judge order is allowed to stand, a large quantity of vaccine doses could be administered prematurely which would amount to inappropriate administration and could also affect the prospects of the remaining population that still waits for the jab. Moreover, if the government is forced to honour the claims of the petitioner and other similar industrial groups, it could have adverse effects on the regulated pattern of vaccine administration.The plea also challenged the single-judge's inference that since the government had reduced the interval for certain classes of people, the interval prescribed is only advisory. Such relaxations were offered to certain classes on valid consideration, whereas the beneficiaries of the judge's order would not fall under the same category, the appeal said.Pertinently, the appeal challenged the approach of the single-judge in drawing a comparison between the right of an individual to choose early protection over best protection on the ground that it would lead to adverse consequences in the larger public interest. Any insistence to avail the second dose prior to the scientifically decided 12 weeks will actually impede the development of immunity, the plea claimed.Thus, attempting to evaluate the issue which is to be viewed in a scientific angle, more as an issue falling under Article 14, would result in a social disaster.On these grounds, among others, the Central government sought a stay on the operation of the order of the single-judge.