20 May 2021 4:30 PM GMT
On Thursday, the Bombay High Court directed the State to ensure that citizens who have confirmed appointments through online registration are given preference to walk-in registrants at vaccination centres. The division bench of Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice GS Kulkarni passed the order after Advocate Jamsheed Master informed the court that in certain places, vaccines...
On Thursday, the Bombay High Court directed the State to ensure that citizens who have confirmed appointments through online registration are given preference to walk-in registrants at vaccination centres.
The division bench of Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice GS Kulkarni passed the order after Advocate Jamsheed Master informed the court that in certain places, vaccines are administered haphazardly. A particular section of citizens are permitted walk-in vaccination facilities, but people who have obtained suitable appointment through the CoWIN portal are deprived of their vaccine citing a shortage, he said.
"We are inclined to reiterate that online registrants who have obtained appointments for vaccination upon accessing the CoWIN portal shall be given preference to 'on spot' registrants in the matter of vaccination. Also, we direct the respondents to make an earnest endeavour to ensure that elderly citizens are not made to stand in queues at the vaccination centres for long and that immediate steps are taken to vaccinate them without making them to wait." the bench said in their order.
The Mumbai Municipal Corporation for Greater Mumbai represented by advocate KH Mastakar opposed the pleas submitting that online registrants are always given preference.
"Then you shouldn't have any problem following the guidelines," the bench said while asking the State as well as the Centre to file its response to the petition.
The court was hearing a PIL by Yogeeta Vanzara and Siddharth Chandrashekar that raised several issues related to the CoWIN portal and orderly administration of vaccines.
During the hearing, Master, instructed by advocate Rajesh Vanzara, walked the bench through the entire process of registration on the CowinApp. He submitted that slots on CoWin open-up at any time, so people have to wait the whole day before a screen to book, and the captcha code is not read 9 out of 10 times.
Moreover, after getting a slot, vaccines not available as they are given to on-spot registrants. Master cited his father's example, who had to wait for for 8 hours before he could be vaccinated, despite a time slot given on the portal.
He further cited the example of former India cricket captain Nariman (Nari) Contractor, 88, who was turned away from the gates of Cama Hospital in Fort despite registering on the Cowin app for the second dose, due to no stock. He was accompanied by his visually disabled wife Dolly, 89, and son Hoshedar, 61.
They were vaccinated the following day with the help of a member from Mumbai Cricket Association's (MCA) Apex Council.
Master pointed out how nearly 1000 spots would open up at the government-run Nair Hospital resulting in severe over-crowding, while fewer vaccines were given to other centres.
The court observed that it was unfair to make citizens wait this way, especially senior citizens.
"There have been other instances where people have had appointments and have been asked to go back as the vaccines were not there. Instead of people chasing the vaccine, you should chase people and get them vaccinated. You will make them stand in queue and make them Covid positive. You should reach out to people," the bench told the Additional Solicitor General.
The ASG Anil Singh, then said that there was some misunderstanding. Citing a press note he said that the Union Government provides advance information about vaccination to all the States and Union territories. "We have issued advisories, given the details with timelines for two weeks in advance," he said.
[Siddharth Chandrashekar vs. The Union of India & Ors. ]
[Yogeeta R. Vanzara vs. The Union of India & Ors.]