Decide on Mumbai civic body’s letter for door-to-door Covid vaccination: HC to Centre
The Bombay high court (HC) on Friday asked the Central government to decide on the June 10 letter written by Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) chief Iqbal Singh Chahal to the health secretary, ministry of health and family welfare (MoHFW), wherein he had stated that the civic body was willing to undertake door-to-door vaccination for bedridden persons who cannot move out of their homes.
The letter has also sought the issuance of guidelines for initiating such vaccination drives.
The division bench of chief justice Dipankar Datta and justice Girish Kulkarni, while hearing the public interest litigation (PIL) filed by advocates Dhruti Kapadia and Kunal Tiwari, was informed that the state and BMC were to answer the queries raised by the bench on the issue of providing door-to-door vaccination for people over 75 years of age, specially-abled and bedridden people.
In the previous hearing on June 9, the bench had framed four questions which were regarding initiating door-to-door vaccination in the absence of any door-to-door vaccination policy by the Centre, whether the BMC was willing to undertake the exercise without the Centre’s go ahead, whether the BMC had written to the centre seeking such permission and whether the state of Maharashtra was willing to follow the Kerela model wherein door-to-door vaccination initiative was already underway.
Senior counsel Anil Sakhare for the BMC while responding to the queries informed the bench that the BMC commissioner had written a letter to the centre and a response was awaited. He submitted that the civic body was willing to undertake the initiative provided the centre gave it the go-ahead.
“You (BMC) have taken many initiatives that were innovative and became an example for other civic bodies to combat the coronavirus. Your commissioner had claimed to have initiated the chase the virus initiative. Are you saying that all of those initiatives had the approval of the Centre?” questioned the bench.
Additional solicitor general Anil Singh submitted that the committee of experts formed to mull over the directions of the HC had unanimously recommended the near to home vaccination plan and though the recommendation was only advisory in nature it was expected that the states and civic authorities abide by them.
“Where is the problem (in adopting door-to-door policy), we are not understanding it. States are doing it successfully, why don’t you (Centre) communicate with them and know how they are doing it?” the bench asked Singh.
The bench stressed that they were not trying to interfere with the government’s decision but only wanted to ensure that lives were not lost. “You want a large number of people to come out for vaccination and those who cannot come out, cannot be vaccinated? This is the message which has been sent to the people,” said the bench.
Taking exception to the state’s request seeking time to respond to the query of the court in the previous hearing on how senior politicians had managed to receive the vaccination dose at his residence in Mumbai in April the court said, “A week’s time? This is alarming. It reminds us of an old saying you show the man and I will show you the rule,” said the bench.
The bench then directed the Centre’s to respond to BMC’s letter and posted further hearing to Monday, June 14.