May 19, 2021 10:17:42 pm
The Bombay High Court on Wednesday pulled up the Centre for not adopting the door-to-door vaccination policy for the elderly and the specially-abled. It said if the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) comes up with a door-to-door vaccination proposal, the court will “allow them despite the Centre’s policy of not permitting it” at the present stage.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish S Kulkarni was hearing 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 to those aged above 75, the specially-abled and the bed-ridden.
Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh for the Centre said an expert committee was appointed to examine the proposal for door-to-door vaccination for the elderly and the specially-abled. He added that the committee proposed strategies which included community-based outreach sessions to be organised in urban and rural areas to provide the jabs in a de-centralised manner, while transportation facilities can be extended to support the elderly residing nearby.
The HC, however, was not convinced by the suggestions and termed it to be opposite to the door-to-door vaccination plan. It said it was unable to find a reason as to why the expert committee of the Centre had felt that it was not feasible to carry out door-to-door vaccination with due medical care.
CJ Datta asked the Centre, “I am not much aware of the situation in Mumbai, but in North Kolkata, there are buildings wherein even stretchers cannot be taken inside. If somebody is bedridden and there is no room for stretcher to manoeuvre, how will you bring them outside for vaccination? Are they not entitled?”
Justice Kulkarni said there are old buildings in congested areas with wooden staircases even in Mumbai and the elderly there may not be able to come out for vaccination.
The HC observed, “They (committee members) are all academic experts, but they seem to have zero knowledge about ground reality. If this decision is taken from Delhi, you (Centre) should think about the local situation….If the corporation wants to start door-to-door vaccination, we will allow them despite the Centre’s policy of not permitting it. It can come to the help of old residents.”
It directed the BMC Commissioner to inform it as to whether it was possible for the civic body to introduce door-to-door vaccination “under proper medical care and upon consent of citizens/beneficiaries to be administered being well aware of the consequences”.
The HC will hear the PIL next on Thursday.
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