Vaccination scam: Catch big fish, HC directs Mumbai Police

Published on Jun 29, 2021 11:17 PM IST

The Bombay high court (HC) on Tuesday directed the Mumbai Police to catch the big fish behind the fake vaccination scam that has rocked the city and leftover 2,000 Mumbaikars affected

HT Image
HT Image
ByKAY Dodhiya, Mumbai

The Bombay high court (HC) on Tuesday directed the Mumbai Police to catch the big fish behind the fake vaccination scam that has rocked the city and leftover 2,000 Mumbaikars affected. The HC, while observing that it was a failure of the state to prevent fake or unauthorised vaccination camps, asked the BMC to inform it on measures to provide proper vaccination to the affected persons and also verify whether they were vaccinated or not and what was administered to them in the camps.

The division bench of chief justice Dipankar Datta and justice Girish Kulkarni, while hearing public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Mumbai resident Siddharth Chandrashekhar, was informed that as the general public especially the elderly faced problems while booking vaccination slots on the Co-WIN portal, the court should pass appropriate directions to the authorities to initiate measures to address the issue.

During the hearing of the petition, Chandrashekhar through advocate Anita Shekhar-Castellino had drawn the attention of the HC to news reports on fake vaccination camps being held in the city and sought strict action against the perpetrators. On its part, the Mumbai Police on June 24, had informed the court that over 2,000 people received fake Covid-19 jabs at nine private vaccination camps in Mumbai and five FIRs had been registered against the perpetrators who mostly operated in the western suburbs.

On Tuesday, while responding to the directions of the HC in the June 24 hearing, the state and BMC filed affidavits on the progress of the investigation and measures being taken to avoid such cases in future. Chief public prosecutor Deepak Thakare for Mumbai Police through an investigation progress report informed that seven cases of fake vaccination camps were registered and 11 accused were taken into custody. The accused Dr Manish Tripathi had also surrendered to the police.

“There has to be a meaningful and fair probe. Please tell the police officers that there could be big fishes, who are not investigated and none should be spared irrespective of any colour and probe should be proper. The lives of citizens are involved and the accused should be punished accordingly. They should be taught a lesson,” the bench directed the police. The court further observed that earnest attempts need to be made by the investigating officers and hope that the investigation would be completed at the earliest.

Senior Counsel Anil Sakhare for BMC informed the bench that the civic authority was trying to ascertain what was injected in over 2,000 people by conducting an antibody test on them. He added that the victims could also get the test done themselves and come for vaccination. He, however, added that the issue of vaccination certificates given to the victims had to be checked with the central government.

The bench was then informed that SOPs for holding vaccination camps for housing societies, commercial premises, educational institutions among others would be published by Wednesday.

Castellino however pointed out that while the BMC SOPs spoke about measures to be taken to prevent further frauds, it did not address the issue of grievances of people affected by unauthorised vaccinations especially the concerns of victim students who have to travel for studies to foreign countries.

The bench then directed BMC to file its response to the concerns raised by the petitioner and also directed the police to submit the further investigation progress report and posted hearing of the PIL to Thursday, July 1.

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