On Wednesday (May 12, 2021), the Bombay High Court ruled that, if few months ago the Centre had implemented a door-to-door vaccination policy for the elderly and bedridden, several lives could have been saved.
The bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice GS Kulkarni questioned the Centre's reluctance on the issue of door-to-door inoculation after the Additional Solicitor General stated that even in the Supreme Court, the Union had opposed it.
"Many of our great prominent citizens could have been saved if we had this door-to-door vaccination some time ago. I'm not taking names of people from all walks of life. There was definitely something that could have been done," Justice Kulkarni stated.
During the hearing, it was revealed that Assistant Government Pleader GW Mattos had died. He had practised for several decades in the Bombay High Court.
Meanwhile, the centre was questioned by the Chief Justice for failing to put anything on record to show that it had reconsidered its vaccination policy, despite the ASG's statement to that effect during the previous hearing.
Before ordering the Additional Solicitor General to file an affidavit for the next hearing, the Chief Justice asked him,
"You said there would be a re-look (at the policy), where is the re-look? On April 22, When we passed the order , your Government should have considered it either way; why wait until the filing of an affidavit in Supreme Court?"
The bench was hearing a Public Interest Litigation filed by two lawyers, Dhruti Kapadia and Kunal Tiwari, seeking door-to-door vaccination service for senior citizens over the age of 75, specially-abled people, and bed-ridden people.
During the previous hearing, the bench slammed the Centre's five-point explanation for why door-to-door inoculation was not feasible. It was observed that if a policy denies an elderly person home vaccination due to their precarious medical condition, it must be regarded as arbitrary and unreasonable.
On Wednesday, Kapadia cited her compilation of global literature on the importance of immunizing those who are unable to travel to vaccine centres.She referred to Singapore as an example of a country that has a door-to-door vaccination strategy for its old.
Justice Kulkarni then noted that the concept of FasTag did not arrive in India until 2021, a period that lasted from 1989 to 2021.
"One of the pictures in the local paper was quite heartbreaking, showing all senior citizens and patients in wheelchairs waiting for vaccination. Some things take a long time to arrive."
The Chief Justice stated that, yesterday he and senior administrative committee judges met with BMC chief Iqbal Chahal . According to the CJ, Chahal informed them that a ward-by-ward vaccination plan would be in place by Monday. In addition, the BMC intended to vaccinate 70,000 Mumbaikars every day.
The court ordered the BMC to record this plan.
Advocate Kapadia also stated that it was extremely difficult for senior citizens to register on the COWIN App. "Not everyone is technologically savvy. The online app system should include a helpline for senior citizens."
The court stated that it would wait for BMC's plan before issuing any orders.