The Bombay High Court on Wednesday urged the Union and Maharashtra Government to consider – if its vaccination mechanisms can be more user friendly for senior citizens and the differently-abled while directing them to respond to a PIL seeking door-to-door vaccination for persons above 75 years.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice GS Kulkarni further agreed to consider the problems faced by those without Aadhar Cards. An Aadhar card is mandatory to get oneself vaccinated or tested for the novel coronavirus.
Justice Kulkarni narrated his own experience when the case came up for hearing, "My father is in a wheelchair. I cannot take him for vaccination. So far, he does not have the courage to go. There can be worst cases of completely bedridden citizens. What will you do?"
The Court agreed with the practical difficulties a senior citizen is faced with when trying to get vaccinated, however it clarified that it was not attempting to interfere with the government's policies.
"We are not trying to interfere with the government's policy on this issue. We are only seeing if any improvement can be made to the policy. The concern is that the process could be more user friendly and not lengthy," the bench said.
The high court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by advocates Dhruti Kapadia and Kunal Tiwari seeking a direction to the Centre and the Maharashtra government to provide door-to-door vaccination facility for senior citizens above the age of 75, for specially-abled persons, and also for those persons who are bed-ridden or wheelchair-bound.
Chief Justice Datta said that the BMC Chief Iqbal Chahal had mentioned the requirement of an attached ICU for vaccination, in a meeting with the HC's administrative committee.
"As a court of judicial review, we have to be cautious. We cannot act like a bull in a China shop. If the Centre's policy says something, we have to follow that. Giving senior citizens helpline numbers, keeping a mobile van with doctors (on standby) and supervision is something we can suggest. We can make suggestions but we cannot direct," CJ Datta said.
The bench asked the Centre's lawyer Advait M. Sethana to take instructions on the protocol for senior citizens' vaccination, and Government Pleader for the state Purnima Kantharia to inform the bench if door-to-door vaccination is possible.