The Bombay High Court bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish Kulkarni on Wednesday sought to know from the Union government as to why it can't take a step further and start vaccinating people at their doorstep since the center has already framed a vaccination policy named "near your house."
The bench was seized with a PIL filed by advocate Dhruti Kapadia seeking door-to-door vaccination drive for senior citizens and the bedridden persons.
When the matter was called out for hearing, appearing virtually, additional solicitor general Anil Singh sought an adjournment saying the Union goverment needs some more time to decide on whether it could allow the door-to-door vaccination drive.
Kapadia, however, told the judges that the Union goverment has come up with a new police called as "near your house" wherein housing societies are permitted to conduct special vaccination drives by coordinating with private hospitals, in their compounds.
She further pointed out that the authorities in Vasai-Virar municipal corporation have already started vaccinating leporesy patients at their doorstep.
Having noted the submissions, Chief Justice Datta said, "Mr ASG, we fail to understand that when your new policy allows vaccination in societies then why can't you take a step ahead and reach at the doors of those, who can't come out?"
During the hearing, senior counsel Anil Sakhare for the BMC said that the civic body has also permitted for similar drives in society compounds. "Private hospitals have tied up with societies and are conducting vaccination drives. Our aim is to vaccinate 1 lakh people daily," he submitted.
Further, ASG Singh gave details of the probable increase in the producing capacity of Covishield and Covaxin. He added that by July both the drugs would be made sufficiently available.
At this, CJ Datta sought to know as to by when would the entire population in India would get their first shots of vaccine.
"December this year is what the ICMR has estimated," ASG Singh responded.
Meanwhile, the bench even took up another petition filed by Yogeeta Vanzara through advocate Jamsheed Master highlighting the lapses in CoWin application.
Master highlighted before the judges the fact that the state and civic authorities aren't opening the booking slots for vaccination for a week but are doing it for daily basis. "If they open the slots for the entire week, it would be more easier for citizens to cope with and there would be less panic and crowding," he said.
"There is also no fixed time on the opening of time slots at various centers as some open at 8 am while others don't open even till 12," he added.
Master further submitted that the BMC gives "passive information" every evening on Twitter about the number of vaccines.
At this, Sakhare said that the BMC itself learns about the allotted vaccines (for the next day) in the evening. "Information about vaccines to be allotted for Friday is given to us on Thursday evening. Accordingly, we plan our drives," he said.
Having heard the contentions, Justice Kulkarni said, "Mr ASG, there are too many issues in this CoWin App. Make the registration thing easier. Please look into this."
During the hearing, Master pointed out that private hospitals are smoothly carrying out vaccination drives but the civic and government run centers are saying they don't have stocks.
At this, Sakhare said, "At present, the goverment is using it's stock in rural areas, which are worst hit during the second wave. Private hospitals and civic bodies are taking care of urban areas."
The bench adjourned the matter till next Tuesday.