As we all know that India is at a shortage of covid-19 vaccines. US based vaccine companies like Pfizer and Moderna are willing to help India only if the Indian government grants them indemnity. The demand of indemnity was asked by the pune based Serum Institute of India (SII) after they were sued after the side effects in the body we experienced.
So what exactly is indemnity?
Indemnity is a contract by which one party promises to save the other from loss caused to him by the conduct of promisor itself, or by the conduct of any other person.
The Oxford dictionary defines indemnity as protection against damage or loss, especially in the form of a promise to pay for any damage or loss that happens
Why are the companies demanding for indemnity?
Indemnity will provide protection to vaccine-makers from legal proceedings, which means that they can't be sued in India.
What are the rights of indemnity holder?
Section 125 of Indian Contract Acts lays the extent of liability i.e.
S. 125. Rights of indemnity-holder when sued.—The promisee in a contract of indemnity, acting within the scope of his authority, is entitled to recover from the promisor— —The promisee in a contract of indemnity, acting within the scope of his authority, is entitled to recover from the promisor—"
(1) all damages which he may be compelled to pay in any suit in respect of any matter to which the promise to indemnify applies;
(2) all costs which he may be compelled to pay in any such suit if, in bringing or defending it, he did not contravene the orders of the promisor, and acted as it would have been prudent for him to act in the absence of any contract of indemnity, or if the promisor authorized him to bring or defend the suit;
(3) all sums which he may have paid under the terms of any compromise of any such suit, if the compromise was not contrary to the orders of the promisor, and was one which it would have been prudent for the promisee to make in the absence of any contract of indemnity, or if the promisor authorized him to compromise the suit.
Why is it a controversial issue?
The US based Pfizer has indemnity all over the countries where it was exported. Pfizer has placed a demand that it will export to India only if the transaction is with the central government and the company will be protected from legal cases.
No other company has this advantage so they might put the same demand in front of the central government. If the government accepts their demands then people’s lives and the government will be at a risk than the drug related companies.
Why is government not providing indemnity to vaccine makers?
The government of India have not come to any decision yet related to providing indemnity. Some of the sources say that people might sue the GOI in court if there are too much of side effects from a vaccine. A vaccine has different effects on people related to their body type and providing indemnity to the companies could be a great risk. Also, some say that the callous attitude of the citizens could also be counted as a reason as people are not taking proper precautions and breaking the lockdown rules.