April 8, 2021 2:52:02 am
The Bombay High Court on Wednesday suggested to the Union government that it should “improve” vaccination mechanisms to make them user-friendly for senior citizens aged over 75 years and those who are bed-ridden and specially-abled.
The court sought to know from the Centre its policy on protocols for vaccination of senior citizens and whether door-to-door vaccination was possible for those who cannot be immunised at designated centres.
A division bench of Chief Justice (CJ) Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish S Kulkarni was hearing a PIL filed by Mumbai-based lawyers Dhruti Kapadia and Kunal Tiwari, seeking directions to the Centre, the Maharashtra government and the BMC to provide door-to-door vaccination facility for people over 75 years of age, the specially-abled and the bed-ridden.
CJ Datta said that he had asked BMC Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal to conduct vaccination drive for lawyers and judicial staff in the medical clinic of the HC building, but was refused. Chahal had said that the BMC cannot conduct such a drive since an ICU is needed to be kept on standby when a vaccine is administered.
Justice Kulkarni said that concerns raised by the petitioners were “real”. “There can be worst cases, someone might be completely bed-ridden, what will you do?” he asked. “For senior citizens, vaccination should be user-friendly,” he added.
While the bench asked the Centre’s lawyer to take instructions on whether door-to-door vaccination was possible, it also added a word of caution: “We do not want senior citizens collapsing after taking the vaccine. There has to be an ambulance with ICU facilities. We are not interfering with government policies. What we are seeking is some improvement.”
“As a court of judicial review, we have to be cautious. We cannot act like a bull in a China shop. If the Centre’s policy says something, we have to follow that. Giving senior citizens helpline numbers, keeping a mobile van with doctors (on standby) and supervision is something we can suggest. We can make suggestions but we cannot direct,” CJ Datta said.
Seeking responses from the authorities, the HC posted the matter for next hearing on Friday.
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