Updated: June 23, 2021 12:17:36 am
The Bombay High Court on Tuesday asked the central and the state governments to reconsider the standard operating procedures (SOPs) to vaccinate the “floating population” of mentally ill homeless persons and beggars. The court suggested the state government to consider having a permanent tattoo put on to identify such persons for inoculating them.
The HC has also asked the state and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to submit ward-wise details of homeless persons who have been administered Covid vaccines.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish S Kulkarni made the suggestion while hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by actor T J Bhanu through advocates Sarosh Bharucha and Shrey Fatterpekar seeking reliefs for homeless persons, including those suffering from mental illness, for their Covid-19 vaccination and post-inoculation care in line with the central government guidelines. The petitioner sought that a special mechanism is formulated for such persons.
The petitioner also informed the court that such persons do not possess identity cards required for Covid-19 vaccination and are not mentally sound to give informed consent to authorities and disclose whether they have been vaccinated or not and, therefore, the SOPs should also cover mentally ill persons.
Bharucha said that the existing state guidelines on vaccination did not consider mentally persons without legal guardians not in a position to give informed consent to get jabbed. The lawyers also suggested that a biometric system be put in place to ensure the record of vaccination of such persons including when and where they received the jab is maintained.
After hearing submissions, the HC said that it was usual to find mentally unsound persons wandering on streets and it was difficult to keep track of them. However, the bench added that it was the state’s responsibility to maintain a record of jabs administered to such persons and that putting a mark with marking devices would be useless as the same would get wiped off in a few days.
Therefore, the bench suggested that the state can consider some long lasting mark such as tattoos which would not only show whether the concerned persons are vaccinated but also the number of jabs received by them.
HC told state and BMC, ” You should have some mechanism in place. Tell us how many homeless or mentally ill persons are vaccinated and have been taken care of in every ward in the city and provided food, shelter etc. Your (state) affidavit is absolutely silent on this issue. We are a complex society and we need to attend to everyone to ensure none is ignored or neglected.”
The HC will hear PIL on June 29.
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