'Cannot close the chapter': Bombay HC tells Centre to revisit policy on door-to-door COVID-19 vaccination
BL Soni

A division bench of the Bombay High Court of Chief Justice Dipankar Dutta and Justice Girish Kulkarni asked the central government on Thursday to revisit the policy decision it had taken against door to door vaccination. The bench said that the centre cannot “close the chapter” by saying its not “feasible”.

The bench said that the government can at least do something for the old and the children, who are the most vulnerable.

The bench was dealing with a PIL filed by advocate Dhruti Kapadia seeking door-to-door inoculation for senior citizens and the physically disabled citizens. She has claimed that these categories of citizens face multiple difficulties in first reaching the centers, second to register online, and have to rely on others.

On Thursday, the judges first sought to know from Maharashtra advocate general Ashutosh Kumbhakoni as to if the present restrictions on movement of citizens in view of surge in Covid cases, would make any impact on vaccination drives.

"A citizen, when registers for a getting the jab, receives an intimation in his cell phone. S/he can show that message on cell phone and proceed to the vaccination centers," Kumbhakoni told the judges.

Further the bench noted about the shortage of vaccines in the state. "This is an alarming situation. You (authorities) have to ensure there is adequate stock and equal distribution of the vaccines in the state," the bench said.

"In fact now that the young generation is made eligible for the vaccination. They would come in huge numbers. There would also be other age groups, who are yet to get their second dose. What will you do then. We don't want a situation wherein a citizen is turned down after he visits the center," CJ added.

The judges were further informed that properly registered citizens are also denied vaccination after they reach the center.

"Why can't there be a mechanism, wherein, once a person registers for the vaccine but there is a shortage at that particular center. The person should be informed about it way before he leaves his house," Justice Kulkarni said.

"Explore sending SMS to the registered beneficiaries so that they don't leave their homes," the judge added. During the course of the hearing, the bench slammed the central government for its stand on the door-to-door inoculation request.

"Did you (Union) triy it? No. You just cannot close the chapter itself by saying it isn't feasible. You cannot let old people die like this," CJ remarked.

"There are so many senior citizens, who cannot travel or even move. There are bedridden citizens in our country. Even children. These categories of citizens aren't in a position to function independently. Thus, we have to take their care," CJ added.

Meanwhile, Justice Kulkarni pointed out that in US, people are given the jab even when they are sitting in their cars. "It is called as drive-in inoculation. Why can't we (authorities) think like this?" the judge questioned.

Matter to be heard again in next week.

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