COVID-19: Bombay HC asks Centre to look at Kerala, J&K pattern for door-to-door vaccination

·3 min read

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Friday said the Union government should look at the door-to-door vaccination programme carried out successfully by Kerala and Jammu and Kashmir, and take a sound decision on its present policy that states door-to-door vaccination was not possible.

A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G S Kulkarni noted that it was unable to understand what the Centre's problem was in starting door-to-door vaccination when states such as Kerala and Jammu and Kashmir were already carrying out such drives.

Responding to a query raised by the court earlier this week, as to how a senior politician got vaccinated at his residence in Mumbai, Anil Sakhare, counsel for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), on Friday said the jab was not given by the civic body.

The bench then asked additional government pleader Geeta Shastri, appearing for the Maharashtra government, about who administered the vaccine to the politician. Shastri sought a week's time to respond.

To this, Chief Justice Datta said, "One week to take information on this? This is alarming. There is an old saying 'You show me the man and I will show you the rule'."

The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by advocates Dhruti Kapadia and Kunal Tiwari, seeking door-to-door vaccination for senior citizens above the age of 75 and persons who are specially abled, wheelchair-bound or bedridden.

The court asked how the Union government policy says door-to-door vaccination was not possible presently, when individual states such as Kerala and Jammu and Kashmir were carrying out the drive.

"How is it that individual states like Kerala and Jammu and Kashmir have introduced and are successfully doing door-to-door vaccination? What is the Centre's comment on the Kerala and Jammu and Kashmir pattern?" the bench asked.

"We are not able to understand what the Centre's problem was. Why don't you (Union) communicate with these states and if it appeals to you, then you can ask other states also to start the same drive, the court said, asking the government to take a "sound decision".

The court also noted that it was very happy with the good job being done by the BMC during the pandemic and asked why the civic body was hesitant to introduce door-to-door vaccination.

To this, BMC counsel Sakhre pointed out a letter written by civic commissioner Iqbal Chahal to the Centre stating that the civic body was willing to carry out door-to-door vaccination and requested the Union government to provide guidelines for the same.

The bench directed Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh to take instructions from the Health Secretary of the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on the letter and posted the matter for further hearing on 14 June.

ASG Singh told the court that the COVID-19 pandemic had a national impact and all states need to work in coordination with the Centre.

The Centre forms guidelines and it is expected from all state governments that the guidelines are followed, Singh said, adding that the guidelines for the vaccination drive are updated as per the prevalent situation from time to time.

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