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Bombay HC slams Centre's unwillingness to adopt door-to-door vaccine policy

Bombay HC slams Centres unwillingness to adopt door-to-door vaccine policy

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Thursday slammed the Centre for its insensitivity and expressed disappointment at the Mumbai civic body for not starting door-to-door COVID-19 vaccination for senior citizens and specially-abled, bed-ridden and wheelchair-bound people.

A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice GS Kulkarni said it was disheartened and disappointed with the Centre's way of handling COVID.

"We are very much disheartened with the central government. Instead of making elderly people rush to the (vaccination) centres, you (government) must reach out to them," the court said.

It further directed the Centre to rethink its policy that says door-to-door inoculation drive was not possible due to various reasons, including wastage of vaccines and probability of adverse reaction to the vaccine.

The high court also directed the chairman of the 'National Expert Group for Vaccine Administration of COVID-19' (NEGVAC) set up by the Centre to consider the issue of introducing door-to-door drive and posted the matter for further hearing on June 2.

"If the NEGVAC decides favourably to start the door-to-door drive, then the same shall be implemented without waiting for the court's order," the bench said.

The bench noted that the Centre's expert committee was working on surmises by saying door-to-door vaccination was not possible at present, because of the probability that people might develop an adverse reaction to the vaccine.

"Is there any scientific data which shows that because of a particular vaccine a person has developed complications? Where is the data that even a single person has died after taking the vaccine? The expert committee should opine one way or the other. There cannot be any ifs and buts," the high court said.

The court also lashed out at the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for filing an affidavit saying it would start door-to-door vaccination only after the central government issues guidelines for the same.

On Wednesday, the bench said if the BMC was willing to introduce a door-to-door vaccination drive for senior citizens, specially-abled persons and those who are bed-ridden or wheelchair-bound, then the court would grant permission despite no nod from the Centre.

In an oral order, the centre has now been given time till June 2 to seek clarity from the NEGVAC on the policy of door-to-door vaccine. The court has posted the hearing on the matter on June 2.

The court was hearing a PIL filed by advocates Dhruti Kapadia and Kunal Tiwari, seeking a direction to the government to start a door-to-door inoculation programme for senior citizens above the age of 75 and others who are unable to go to the vaccination centres.

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