THE Bombay High Court on Wednesday asked the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) as to how a senior politician had received vaccination at home even though the BMC has not formulated an official policy to start door-to-door vaccination in the city of Mumbai.
A bench consisting of Chief Justice Dipankar Dutta and Justice GS Kulkarni was hearing a PIL filed by advocate Dhruti Kapadia. In her petition, Kapadia has sought door-to-door vaccination for bedridden patients.
Dhruti Kapadia appeared in person. ASG Anil Singh appeared for the Union Government and Senior Advocate Anil Sakhare appeared for BMC.
In her submissions, Kapadia had pointed out that Kerala had started door-to-door vaccination for bedridden persons who are above the age of 45, even though the Central Government had not issued any guidelines to this effect. She also submitted that Vasai-Virar Municipal Corporation had started a similar initiative.
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The court reminded Sakhare, counsel for the BMC, that the BMC had previously submitted that they would start door-to-door vaccination only once the central government issues guidelines for the same. It then reminded Sakhare about how a senior politician had been vaccinated at their home at the start of the drive.
The court asked Sakhare as to who had vaccinated the politician. “Was it the BMC or was it the State Government?”, the court questioned.
“Either the defense is that he received some other vaccine or you had nothing to do with it. If it is the latter, we will question the state”, Chief Justice Dipankar Dutta remarked.
Sakhare asked for time to seek instructions on the subject. However, Chief Justice Dipankar Dutta insisted that Sakhare find out immediately and inform the court as soon as possible.
“Covid-19 is the common enemy. You must consider the battle against Covid-19 as a surgical strike”, Chief Justice Dutta further stated.
Further, the bench expressed that there could not be selective application of such policies. “If it is selective, we have to come down hard”, the court remarked.
The court expressed its disappointment to the ASG regarding the lack of response from the Central Government. The bench asked the ASG’s response about different states and municipal corporations running door-to-door vaccination drives regardless of the Central Government’s stand against it.
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ASG Anil Singh informed the court that new guidelines shall be issued soon for the whole country in light of the Prime Minister’s announcement about free vaccination for everyone above the age of 18.
The court also inquired if Maharashtra had applied for permission to start door-to-door vaccination. To this, the ASG informed the court that the state hadn’t. The court pointed out news reports which reported otherwise.
Sakhare asked the court for time to seek detailed instructions and place the relevant material before the court. The court granted this request.
Further hearing on the case will be on 11th June.
The article was originally published in The Leaflet.