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‘Deaths could have been avoided with door-to-door vaccination’: Bombay HC asks Centre to review policy

A division bench was hearing a PIL filed by city-based lawyers 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.

Written by Omkar Gokhale | Mumbai |
Updated: May 12, 2021 6:19:48 pm
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish S Kulkarni was hearing a PIL filed by city-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. (File)

Reiterating its direction to the Central government to consider a re-look into its current protocols wherein door-to-door vaccination is not allowed, the Bombay High Court has said that had the government incorporated such policy sometime back, it could have saved lives of senior citizens and specially-abled persons who were unable to visit vaccination centres.

The court also asked the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to apprise it on its move to conduct ward-wise vaccination camps to reach out to a larger population in Mumbai and sought to know if the vaccination officials can visit the residences of eligible persons unable to visit centres and administer jabs to them.

While the court was informed that persons without any identity cards required for vaccination could simply register through Cowin website, it questioned whether beggars, homeless and transgenders can avail such facilities by complying with the modalities prescribed and also asked the Mumbai, Pune and other civic bodies to inform about steps taken to vaccinate such persons and the number of beneficiaries from such categories.

A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish S Kulkarni was hearing a PIL filed by city-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.

On April 22, observing that senior citizens should be given priority and cannot be left to die, the HC had directed the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) to have a relook at its decision and find a solution or “via media” to cater to requirement of the senior citizens of getting vaccinated.

On Wednesday, the HC noted that the Centre had not taken a decision as per its order yet and asked Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, “When we had passed the reasoned order on April 22, your government should have considered either way. Why wait till filing of an affidavit in Supreme Court in suo motu PIL?”

The bench also referred to one of the photographs that appeared in a local newspaper and said that the same was ‘heart-wrenching’ wherein senior citizens were seen on wheelchairs waiting for vaccination at centres in queue. “They could have got infected with Covid, adding to the number of patients, apart from their ailments,” HC said.

Justice Kulkarni said, “If we were to have door-door vaccination sometime back, so many of our prominent citizens across fields, who were not in good health, we could have saved them. Definitely something could have been done. Particularly considering some of the recent deaths.”

CJ Datta also said that he, along with senior administrative judges, had a meeting with BMC Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal on Tuesday wherein he said by May 17, BMC would be putting in place a system of a vaccination camps each across more than 200 wards in Mumbai.

The HC said, “While standing in the queue, some people are getting affected. We will wait till Monday to see how they (BMC) are working it out. As submitted by the petitioner, there might be people bedridden or challenged who may not be in position to attend camps.”

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