The Bombay High Court on Wednesday came down heavily upon the Central government for not having a door-to-door vaccination policy, saying it could have saved the lives of several senior citizens and specially-abled persons who could not visit the inoculation centres.
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, specially-abled persons and those who were bed-ridden on account of an illness or other reasons.
Justice Kulkarni said, “If we had 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…”
On April 22, observing that senior citizens should be accorded priority in vaccination and that they cannot be left to die, the HC had directed the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) to have a relook at its policy and find a solution for the age group.
On Wednesday, noting that the Centre had not taken a decision on its order yet, the court 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 court also questioned the civic bodies in Mumbai, Pune and other places about their policy on vaccinating homeless people and number of beneficiaries from the group.
When informed that people who do not have any identity card could still register themselves on CoWIN website, the HC asked whether beggars, homeless people and those who identify as transgender persons can avail such facilities by complying with the modalities prescribed.
The Court also asked the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to apprise it on the civic body’s move to set up ward-wise vaccination camps to reach out to the larger population in Mumbai. The court asked if vaccination officials could visit the residences of eligible persons who are unable to visit inoculation centres and administer jabs to them.
Seeking response from the Centre and the civic bodies on its queries, the bench posted the matter for further hearing on May 19.