Conduct ‘surgical strike’ on Covid, provide door-to-door vaccine to needy: Bombay HC to Centre

ASG Singh, meanwhile, submitted that the Centre will come up with new Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for vaccination for the needy this week, and said it will be a national policy.

The centre’s approach against the biggest “enemy” coronavirus should be “like a surgical strike” by providing door-to-door vaccination to the needy, elderly and specially-abled persons who cannot visit vaccination centres, the Bombay High Court said Wednesday.

The HC also asked the Centre why the ‘door-to-door’ vaccine for the needy persons, which has been rolled out in Kerala, Bihar, Odisha and Jammu and Kashmir, could not be adopted in Maharashtra. It also asked the Centre why it did not have a national policy for the same instead of the current ‘near-to-door vaccination’ plan.

The HC had Tuesday appreciated the central government’s decision of “near to home” Covid-19 vaccination centres for elderly and differently-abled persons but had asked it to consider further measures to remove the difficulties and risks, cited by it, for initiating the ‘door-to-door’ inoculation of the needy.

On Wednesday, the division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish S Kulkarni was hearing a PIL filed by city-based lawyers Dhruti Kapadia and Kunal Tiwari, seeking directions to the Centre, Maharashtra government and the BMC to provide a door-to-door vaccination for people over 75 years of age, specially-abled and bedridden people.

“You (Centre) will admit Covid-19 is a bigger enemy and we have to strike it down. This enemy resides inside certain persons who cannot come out. Your approach should be like a surgical strike. When a surgical strike is required, you are assembling forces near borders and not entering into enemy territory. You are waiting. You are making decisions for public benefit, but it seems they are delayed. Decisions if taken earlier could have saved many lives,” CJ Datta told Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, representing the Centre.

After the petitioners submitted details pertaining to ‘door-to-door vaccination’ initiatives by various civic and state authorities, including Kerala for “bedridden patients above 45 years of age”, the HC said, “Door-to-door is the best possibility for vaccination to such needy persons. BMC has said that it is ready but waiting for your approval. You cannot clip the wings of authorities.”

ASG Singh, meanwhile, submitted that the Centre will come up with new Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for vaccination for the needy this week, and said it will be a national policy.

The bench also sought to know whether the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) or the state government enabled a “senior politician” to receive the second vaccine dose at his home in Mumbai in April. “My question to you is since the inception of this PIL, a very senior politician received vaccination at home and that happened in Mumbai. Who did it? The corporation or state government? Someone has to take responsibility. We are saying you (BMC) are a model for the country and you can do it (door to door vaccination). Did Kerala wait for the centre’s approval? BMC has failed to live up to our expectation,” CJ Datta said.

The next hearing has been posted on Friday.

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