FPJ Legal: Maharashtra govt to soon start door-to-door vaccination in Pune
Photo Credit: AFP

The Maharashtra government has finally decided to kickstart door-to-door vaccination drive for the elderly and bedridden citizens in the state. However, the first such drive on "trial and experiment basis" shall start in Pune, the government told the Bombay High Court bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish Kulkarni on Wednesday.

The state through advocate general Ashutosh Kumbhakoni further told the bench that the policy would be implemented without seeking any approval from the Union government.

AG said, "We have decided to commence door-to-door vaccination drive on a trial and experiment basis only at Pune as of now. Once monitoring the progress there, we will start it in other districts too."

"I would like to clarify that for this drive we won't refer or seek any approval from the Union government and implement this scheme just as we did for vaccinating students, who had to go abroad for their studies," Kumbhakoni said, adding, "Notably, we implemented that scheme for students successfully without any approval from the Union government."

The advocate general further explained that the state will by today (Wednesday) evening generate an email id for Pune district. "We will invite emails from the family members of patients who are immobile. And accordingly visit their home for the inoculation," he said.

The AG further told the judges that the state intends to impose "certain conditions" apart from the five conditions already mentioned by the state task force.

At this, the chief justice said, "We hope and trust that the state won't insist on the condition that the doctor needs to certify that the patient can be given the jab and won't get any Adverse Effect Following Immunisation (AEFI)."

"How can you (state) expect such a thing? Which doctor would go out of their way to certify something like that especially when you say that if any instance of AEFI is reported that family doctor would be held responsible. We think this is an impractical condition," the chief justice observed.

Further explaining the scheme, AG clarified why Pune has been selected. He said Pune city is neither too big nor too small and also the fact that the earlier scheme of inoculating students was implemented first in Pune city.

During the hearing, the AG requested the bench to further hearing the matter in the chambers as there were some "legitimate concerns" raised by the state authorities against extensive media coverage of the matter at hand.

The bench agreed to hear the matter in chamber and ordered AG to ensure Dr Sanjay Oak, the chairperson of the state task force is present in the chambers.

Meanwhile, the judges cited several media reports about the door-to-door vaccination drive at Tripura. Some photos showed citizens being vaccinated in boats, on cycles, in narrow lanes, at homes etc.

"Tell your officials to draw inspiration from the authorities in Tripura and other states," the bench said while adjourning the matter for further hearing in chambers on Friday evening.

After the Bombay high court slammed the Maharashtra government on Tuesday for saying it would implement its door-to-door vaccination drive for the elderly and bedridden only after the Union government's approval of the state taskforce's policy, the state government has finally decided to act on its doorstep inoculation initiative on a ‘trial and experiment basis’ in Pune, it informed the Bombay High Court bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish Kulkarni on Wednesday.

The state, through Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni, further told the bench that the policy would be implemented without seeking any approval from the Union government.

The AG said, ‘‘We have decided to commence door-to-door vaccination drive on a trial and experiment basis only at Pune as of now. After monitoring the progress there, we will start it in other districts too.’’

‘‘I would like to clarify that for this drive we won’t refer to or seek any approval from the Union government and implement this scheme just as we did for vaccinating students, who had to go abroad for their studies,’’ Kumbhakoni said, adding, ‘‘Notably, we implemented the scheme for students successfully, without any approval from the Union government.’’

The advocate general further explained that the state would, by Wednesday (June 30) evening, generate an email id for Pune district. ‘‘We will invite emails from the family members of patients who are immobile and accordingly visit their home for the inoculation,’’ he said.

The AG further told the judges that the state intends to impose ‘‘certain conditions’’, apart from the five conditions already mentioned by the state taskforce.

At this, the chief justice said, ‘‘We hope and trust that the state won’t insist on the condition that the doctor needs to certify that the patient can be given the jab and won’t get any Adverse Effect Following Immunisation (AEFI).

‘‘How can you (state) expect such a thing? Which doctor would go out of their way to certify something like that especially when you say that if any instance of AEFI is reported, that family doctor would be held responsible. We think this is an impractical condition,’’ the chief justice observed.

Further explaining the scheme, the AG clarified why Pune has been selected. He said Pune city was neither too big nor small and also the fact that the earlier scheme of inoculating students, too had been implemented first in Pune city.

During the hearing, the AG requested the bench to further hear the matter in the chambers, as there were some ‘‘legitimate concerns’’ raised by the state authorities against extensive media coverage of the matter at hand.

The bench agreed to hear the matter in chamber and ordered the AG to ensure that Dr Sanjay Oak, the chairperson of the state taskforce was present in the chambers.

Meanwhile, the judges cited several media reports about the door-to-door vaccination drive at Tripura. Some photos showed citizens being vaccinated in boats, on cycles, in narrow lanes, at homes etc.

‘‘Tell your officials to draw inspiration from the authorities in Tripura and other states,’’ the bench said, while adjourning the matter for further hearing in the chambers on Friday evening.

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