Expressing concern over recent incidents of unauthorised and fake vaccination drives in the city, the Bombay High Court directed the Maharashtra government and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) Tuesday to formulate a policy to ensure such instances were not repeated.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish S Kulkarni also asked the government to submit progress reports of the investigations conducted in such incidents and to unearth the racket and find the kingpin indulged in defrauding people amid the pandemic.
“In these kinds of matters of fraud in vaccination, the state should be very much serious and should not delay the investigation. Let BMC and state government form a policy on SOS basis so that no innocent persons suffer. The most unfortunate part is even in current times when entire humanity is suffering, some people are committing fraud,” the HC said.
The bench also asked the state and BMC to inform if a system could be put in place, through state health officials or ward health officers in the city, to keep a track of the vaccines being released to organisers of camps at schools, offices, residential societies and other places.
“There must be some control of the government to ensure what has been injected is the vaccine and not plain water or spurious vial. Imagine the plight of a person who is not vaccinated with the original vaccine. What could be the state of his/her mind?” the bench added.
The bench was hearing a PIL filed by Siddharth Chandrashekhar seeking the court’s intervention over the issues faced by citizens in booking vaccination slots on the CoWin portal and seeking priority for elderly people for vaccination. Advocate Anita Shekhar-Castellino, appearing for the petitioner, submitted that news reports pertaining to incidents of unauthorised or fake drives for Covid-19 vaccination in Kandivali, Versova and Khar and said strict action was required.
Senior Counsel Anil Sakhare, for the BMC, submitted that the police had begun a probe and there has to be some mechanism by which the corporation is informed about such drives so that precautionary measures can be taken and action be initiated against fraudsters.
The court also sought a progress report on investigations by the next hearing on June 24.
The state has submitted before the Bombay High Court draft guidelines drawn by the state Covid task force on door-to-door vaccination and sought a week’s time to get approval for implementing the same by the government.
Additional Government Pleader Geeta Shastri, appearing for the state, submitted the draft guidelines during a hearing of a PIL filed by city-based lawyers, Dhruti Kapadia and Kunal Tiwari, seeking directions to provide door-to-door vaccination to the elderly, bedridden, and disabled persons.
After perusing state task force draft guidelines, the HC observed, “We prima facie we record that the task force has been proceeding in the right direction. We deem it appropriate to leave it to the wisdom of the task force to explore ways and means for incorporating such measures as it thinks beneficial for the health of the elderly and disabled citizens in whose interest such guidelines are conceived. We hope and trust that at the next hearing on June 29, the state government will be in a position to place before us the approved guidelines.”