New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday sought a response from the Central government on a PIL seeking priority for COVID-19 vaccination for persons with disabilities at their place of residence since they face a higher risk of being impacted by COVID-19.
A Bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud issued notice to the Centre and also requested the Solicitor General to assist it with regard to steps that have already been taken and that are to be taken to assuage their concerns.
Noting that since the plea raises questions dealing with the rights of the disabled, it sought a response from the government within two weeks.
"Since the plea raises substantial questions dealing with rights of the disabled, we issue notice to the Union of India. We would request Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to assist us with regarding steps taken and steps which will be taken to assuage the concerns of petitioners. List this after two weeks," the Bench stated in its order.
The plea filed by Evara Foundation, a disability rights organisation, sought direction to bring focus upon the steps which are required to ensure ease of access to vaccination to persons with disabilities in order to protect them as well against COVID-19.
At the outset, advocate Pankaj Sinha, appearing for the NGO Evara Foundation, said there are two documents, including one by the Indian Medical Association that has said COVID-19 vaccination needs to be done door-to-door to ensure maximum coverage.
He said Jharkhand and Kerala have successfully done so and it could therefore be carried out for for the differently abled.
The bench noted that the plea seeks relief in the nature of door-to-door vaccinations to the extent feasible for the differently abled, preference in scheduling of vaccinations and a dedicated helpline for the differently abled apart from the CoWIN portal.
"We are at first issuing notice to Centre to see what their response is and if there is need for issuing notice to states/UTs in future, we can always do so in the future," the bench said.
Sinha submitted that notice be also issued to all the states and union territories.
The bench told Sinha that if it does so, it will take two months to get their response. It said the petitioner has relied on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, which envisages the principle of reasonable accommodation.
The plea stated that scheduling an appointment at a particular vaccination centre is a highly technical process and persons with disabilities are facing difficulties in getting vaccinated. Seeking vaccination at doorsteps for persons with disabilities and their caregivers, the plea said visiting vaccination centres amid lockdowns in various states is also a challenging task for such persons.
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