The Delhi High Court on Monday said that it will hear in January the petitions challenging denial of information under Right to Information (RTI) Act about investments and costs that went into developing Covaxin, India's indigenous vaccine against COVID-19. .Justice Prathiba M Singh remarked that this is an important matter, and that the Court will need to consider it before passing any orders.Justice Singh, therefore, ordered the matter to be listed on January 9..Three petitions have been filed in the High Court by lawyer and author T Prashant Reddy challenging the orders of the Central Information Commission (CIC). The CIC effectively upheld the stands of public information officers of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) and Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) denying the information. Reddy had sought details from the MoHF about the purchase orders and advance purchase orders for COVID-19 vaccines. From BIRAC, he sought copies of agreements to issue funds for two private entities under Government of India’s ‘Mission COVID Suraksha’.He also sought a copy of the research collaboration agreement between ICMR and Bharat Biotech and the total costs and investments concerning the vaccine..However, the information was denied to him citing Section 8(1)(a) and 8(1)(d) of the RTI Act.Section 8(1)(a) exempts the public authority from providing any information which would prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the State and relation with foreign States.Section 8(1)(d) relates to information regarding commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property which would harm the competitive position of a third party..Reddy has said that the ICMR’s blanket refusal to disclose the vaccine collaboration agreement with Bharat Biotech under the RTI Act is egregious, given that a substantial amount of public funds and resources were expended in developing Covaxin.“As on date of filing this Petition, more than 36 Crore doses of ICMR9s COVAXIN has been the administered in India. The Central Government 3 alone 3 has procured 35.7 crore COVAXIN doses at a total cost of Rs. 385.25 crores,” the plea stated.It added that ICMR’s blanket refusal makes them an outlier amongst leading public research institutions like the University of Oxford and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases that have published research collaboration agreements entered with private entities under the local Freedom of Information (FOI) laws with few redactions..Advocates Swathi Sukumar appeared for Reddy along with Advocates Sai Vinod and Naveen Nagarjuna.Advocate Anurag Ahluwalia appeared for the Central government.