Bombay High Court.

Bombay HC asks Centre, BMC for proposal to vaccinate homeless; queries if Kerala model will be followed

A Bombay High Court bench comprising Chief Justice Dipankar Dutta and Justice GS Kulkarni continued to hear a PIL about door-to-door vaccinations for differently-abled, bedridden and 75+ citizens.

The Court questioned the delay in rolling out a state-wide policy about door-to-door vaccinations and granted the state of Maharashtra a week’s time to respond.

Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Anil Singh appeared for the Centre, petitioner Dhruti Kapadia appeared in person, and Senior Advocate Anil Sakhare appeared for the BMC.

  • The Court posed four questions to the Centre and the State of Maharashtra:
  • Would the State have to approve the State’s decision to undertake door-to-door vaccination?
  • If such approval was not required, why was the BMC waiting for such approval from the Centre?
  • Could it be because the BMC had approached the Centre for such approval in the first place?
  • Did the state of Maharashtra intend to follow the Kerala model to vaccinate bedridden citizens?

ASG Anil Singh submitted that the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had constituted a body of experts and that the Centre was confident of being able to implement door-to-door vaccination in the near future. He also mentioned that NEGVAC has had more than 26 meetings about the same concern.

In response to the Court’s questions, submitted that the door-to-door vaccination policy was a guideline, and not something that the Centre could mandate states to follow.

Petitioner in person Dhruti Kapadia highlighted the Uttarakhand HC’s order to emphasise that other states were considering the issue as well. She also mentioned that the Union seemed to have excluded bedridden citizens from consideration altogether.

Counsel for the state of Maharashtra submitted that the state would need a week’s time to respond to the concerns about the state’s willingness to issue guidelines for door-to-door vaccinations.

The Court also heard arguments in a PIL about homeless persons and those under trial, who did not possess the documents required to be presented before the vaccination, such as Aadhar cards.

Petitioner Sattendra Muley submitted that there had been communication between the Centre and the state to make relevant changes to the COWIN portal, but these had not been implemented.

The Court stated that a separate policy would be required to accommodate such cases, and that the policy makers should respond to this issue.

The Court also observed, in response to Mr Singh’s assurance to submit an affidavit, that there were practical difficulties to be addressed, which were not anticipated on paper.

The Court granted the Centre and the state of Maharashtra two weeks’ time to respond, and will now hear this matter in the week of 28th June, 2021.

The matter will next be heard on Monday 21st June, 2021.

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