The Maharashtra government told the Bombay High Court on Tuesday that it will finalise within a week its policy on starting door-to-door COVID-19 vaccination drives for the elderly, disabled persons and those who are bedridden and unable to visit the inoculation centres.
The state’s counsel, Geeta Shastri, submitted a draft policy before a bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G S Kulkarni.
The state had constituted a special task force comprising experts and stakeholders to come up with such a policy, Shastri said.
While details of the policy could not be made public yet, the same will be finalised within a week and submitted before the court, she said.
The bench accepted Shastri’s submissions.
It was hearing a bunch of PILs, including a plea filed by lawyer Dhruti Kapadia seeking door-to-door COVID-19 vaccination for people above 75 years of age and specially-abled or bedridden persons.
During a previous hearing, the high court observed that the Centre had not imposed any prohibition on states from carrying out door-to-door vaccination for the elderly and disabled citizens.
It had also said the Union government’s policy or the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) on vaccination that did not provide for door-to-door drives was merely an advisory.
On Tuesday, the bench said, “Prima facie, we are of the opinion that the task force is proceeding in the right direction. We, however, leave it to the task force to incorporate such measures which are beneficial for the health of the elderly and disabled citizens.”
“We hope that when we take up this PIL next, the state would be in a position to show us the approved guideline,” the court said.
The bench also directed the Maharashtra government and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to submit municipal ward-wise details of vaccines administered to the mentally-ill and homeless people in the city.
The direction came on another PIL filed by lawyer Sarosh Bharucha, seeking the court’s intervention for ensuring greater access of vaccines to citizens.
Bharucha pointed out that the existing state guidelines on COVID-19 vaccination did not take into account covering persons who were mentally ill and those without a legal guardian, and therefore, not in a position to give an informed consent for receiving the vaccine.
The HC asked the state and the municipal authorities to respond to the issue by next week.
“How many homeless or mentally ill persons have been taken care of in every ward in the city? We are talking of you (state) providing them food, shelter, vaccination, everything,” the high court said.
“Your affidavit is absolutely silent on this issue. We are a very complex society. No one can be ignored or neglected,” the HC said.
The court will hear the above PILs next on June 29.
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