Mumbai: The Bombay High Court bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish Kulkarni on Thursday ordered the Maharashtra government and also the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to spell out on affidavit, how they propose to take care of 2053 individuals, who were administered fake vaccines in at least nine places across Mumbai.
The bench was hearing a PIL filed by one Siddharth Chandrashekhar through advocate Anita Shekhar highlighting the instances of vaccine fraud in the city. Chief public prosecutor Deepak Thakare told the bench that four FIRs have been lodged in all these nine incidents. "Probe so far has revealed that same set of persons are involved in this case. They have used same modus operandi in all the incidents," the prosecutor submitted. A fifth one, which was not mentioned in the court, was filed at Bhoiwada police station on Thursday morning.
The judges noted that prime accused Dr Manish Tripathi is still absconding and another individual Ashish Mishra, who initially contacted housing societies for these drives, isn't named in three FIRs of the total four.
"Ashish Mishra’s role is being probed. He is named only in the FIR lodged at Borivali police station," Thakare submitted. The prosecutor further informed the bench that the police has thus far recorded statements of over 400 witnesses in the case.
Having gone through the status report of the probe, chief justice Datta said, "It is surprising that none of the society members suspected anything? Normally, money is paid and service is rendered. But in this case, they paid money after the services were provided to them. None suspected anything in this?"
At this, Shekhar informed that the newspaper reports indicate that society members raised doubts only after none of them experienced any side effects of the vaccines. Further, BMC counsel Anil Sakhare said the residents received certificates from different hospitals and this raised the suspicion. "Preliminary enquiry is also going on at hospitals to ascertain if they were aware of all this," he said.
During the course of the hearing, the judges sought to know the total number of citizens defrauded in all the nine instances. "2053," Sakhare replied, to which the bench said, "Our anxiety is the safety of these 2053 individuals. Do check if they are experiencing any side effects of the fake vaccines." Sakhare responded that the BMC will take proper care of these 2053 individuals.