The Bombay High Court while considering a Public Interest Litigation (Dhruti Kapadia and Anr. v. Union of India & Ors.
) calling for door-to-door vaccination for COVID-19 asked the Central government to relook at its policy on the subject.
The matter was heard by a Division bench comprising of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice GS Kulkarni.
The petitioners in the case are practising advocates who were seeking door-to-door vaccination for the elderly and disabled citizens of the country.
Anil C. Singh, Additional Solicitor General, appearing for the Central Government gave the court five points to argue that door-to-door vaccination should not be allowed. The points revolved around concerns that post-vaccination adverse event cannot be managed at remote locations, vaccine wastage will be caused by the lack of refrigeration facility and failure of social distancing as health workers have to make home visits. The court in its order criticised each of the points put up by the respondents. On the point that vaccination at home may compromise care in case of ‘Adverse Event Following Immunization’ the court observed that:
“If indeed, vaccination of elderly citizens by adopting a door-to-door vaccination policy is being avoided because such elderly citizens are aged and suffer from comorbidities, we regretfully record that the elderly citizens are literally being asked to choose between the devil and the deep sea. A policy which leads to such conclusion has to be viewed as arbitrary and unreasonable, for the elderly citizens are entitled to the protection of Article 21 of the Constitution of India as much as the young and abled-bodied citizenry of the country. It is, thus, difficult to sustain such reason.”
On the issue of vaccine wastage during door-to-door vaccination, the court pointed out that new generation ambulances with ICU facilities can ensure that the doses are kept at proper temperatures. The court also observed that the healthcare workers can be trained to eliminate vaccine wastage. The court was also not convinced by the argument that door-to-door vaccination will compromise social distancing. The court in its order referred to the crowding at vaccination centres in the current model of vaccination. The Additional Solicitor General has informed the court that the Central Government will give a relook to the door-to-door vaccination policy. The matter is posted for the next hearing on May 6, 2021. [READ ORDER]