The Bombay High Court on Monday gave the Maharashtra government time till June 22 to take an appropriate decision on door-to-door COVID-19 vaccination for the elderly and disabled, and adjourned a PIL seeking the same to that date. A bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice GS Kulkarni also said that if the state government took a decision to begin such a drive before June 22, then it was free to implement the drive "immediately" without waiting for the court's order.
The court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation filed by lawyer Dhruti Kapadia, seeking door-to-door COVID=19 vaccination for citizens above 75 years of age, and for those who were specially-abled or bedridden. The order came after the state and the BMC told HC that the Maharashtra government had expressed an inclination to begin door-to-door vaccination drives for the disabled, bedridden, and such citizens, and for formulating a separate protocol for the same.
The state's counsel, Gita Shastri, told HC that while news reports had quoted state health minister Rajesh Tope expressing a willingness to begin such door-to-door vaccination drives, she was yet to take instructions on when a final decision would be taken. HC then asked the BMC if it would follow the Centre or the state's guidelines in case Maharashtra began a door-to-door drive. The BMC's advocate, senior counsel Anil Sakhre, told HC that the civic body would follow the state's guidelines. Earlier, during the day's hearing, the Union government's counsel Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh had said it was not possible to make such door-to-door drives part of national policy, though some states, by ignoring the Centre's advisory on vaccination, were holding such drives. He said the Centre's SoP on the issue permitted "near to door vaccination".
"We accordingly adjourn the proceedings to June 22 to enable the state government to take an appropriate decision on the issue of door-to-door vaccination for the elderly and disabled," HC said. "In the event a decision is taken permitting door-to-door vaccination prior to the adjourned date of hearing, all concerned shall be free to implement the same immediately," the HC said.
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