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Calcutta HC Pulls Up WB Govt For Inaccurate Covid Fatality Rate, Directs Priority Vaccination, Welfare Schemes For Covid Victims' Kin

Aaratrika Bhaumik
13 Aug 2021 8:55 AM GMT
Calcutta HC Pulls Up WB Govt For Inaccurate Covid Fatality Rate, Directs Priority Vaccination, Welfare Schemes For Covid Victims Kin
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The Calcutta High Court on Thursday issued a host of directions to the West Bengal government while adjudicating upon a bunch of Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petitions on the COVID-19 response and management of the West Bengal government. The matter is slated to be heard next on August 25. A Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Rajarshi Bharadwaj directed...

The Calcutta High Court on Thursday issued a host of directions to the West Bengal government while adjudicating upon a bunch of Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petitions on the COVID-19 response and management of the West Bengal government. The matter is slated to be heard next on August 25

A Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Rajarshi Bharadwaj directed the State to issue a public notification pertaining to the State's Covid-19 compensation scheme for frontline workers so that the concerned stakeholders could be made aware and accordingly reap the benefits. The State was also directed to conduct vaccination drives for mentally ill and disabled persons on a priority basis.

"Places where camps are held for vaccination drives should be known to residents of that area. This will help in division of people and will avoid the creation of rush", the Bench observed.

The Court also directed the State to ensure that 'barrier free' facilities are established in vaccination centers such as ramps so that persons with disabilities do not face any accessibility issues and can easily get vaccinated.

Allocation of vaccines to the State government by the Centre

On Thursday, Additional Solicitor General Y.J Dastoor apprised the Court that for the month of July, 74 lakh Covishield vaccines and 15 lakh Covaxin vaccines had been allotted to the State government by the Centre. In August, 94,84,560 vaccines had been allotted to the State government. He also mentioned that allocation of vaccines are done on a pro rate basis depending upon the target population and as and when the State government demands. 

Accordingly, the Bench enquired from AG Datta as to whether the aforementioned figures were accurate. In response, AG Datta remarked, "Do not think that the figures will be incorrect. I shall check and get back to your Lordships".

Covid-19 compensation scheme for the kin of government frontline workers

Advocate General Kishore Datta apprised the Court that the State government had implemented a Covid-19 compensation scheme for the family members of government frontline workers. Under the scheme, 10 lakh ex gratia is awarded to the kin of the deceased frontline worker whereas 1 lakh is awarded for treatment in case the concerned frontline worker is infected with the virus. 

He further informed the Court that the State government had received 180 applications for compensation from the kin of deceased frontline workers. He further specified that out of the 180 applications, 101 claims had been approved and that 77 claims could not be verified due to a lack of documentation. 

To this Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal remarked, "Total number of deaths must be in thousands, it cannot only be 180" . He further enquired from AG Datta as to what documentations were required for processing such claims. 

In response, the Advocate General pointed out to the Court that documents such as legal heir certificates were required in order to ensure that the compensation is allocated to the correct beneficiaries. Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal further observed, "They are all government employees. The figures pertaining to deaths should be with you. It is the duty of the State to ensure that those who suffered are compensated".

Vaccination of mentally ill persons

AG Datta pointed out to the Court that the State government had visited homes where mentally ill patients are kept and had accordingly vaccinated the concerned persons. He mentioned an instance wherein inmates at Pavlov Hospital in Kolkata had been vaccinated. 

To this, Chief Justice Bindal observed, "Not all mentally ill persons stay at a safe home. Door to door vaccination is required. No data about door to door vaccination is available on the website."

Number of people vaccinated 

AG Datta informed the Court that 3 crore 23 lakh people had been vaccinated in the State. Further, 1 crore 86 lakh people in rural areas had been vaccinated. 

Vaccination of transgender persons 

The Court on Thursday enquired from the State as to whether transgender persons had been vaccinated. In response, the State government informed that 8210 transgender persons had been vaccinated in the State.  

Data regarding infection rates must be uploaded on the ICMR portal

The Bench mentioned to Additional Solicitor General Y.J Dastoor that it is being increasingly noticed that despite getting both doses of vaccination, people are getting infected with the virus. Accordingly, the Bench enquired from the Centre as to whether there exists any portal wherein such statistics can be accessed. In response, ASG Dastoor brought to the notice of the Court that the ICMR portal contains all relevant information about infection rates and that individuals and concerned authorties are at liberty to upload date regarding infection rates on the portal. 

Stressing on the need to upload authentic data on the ICMR portal, the Court directed the Centre to ensure that government hospitals and laboratories upload data regarding infection rates on the portal on a daily basis. 

Directions issued

The State was directed to immediately undertake the exercise of vaccinating disabled and mentally ill persons. 

The Court also ordered the State to issue public notices about the various Covid-19 compensation schemes undertaken by the State government and also the fixed rates imposed on purchase of vaccines. 

The State was directed to inform the Court on the next date of hearing the per day capacity of various hospitals to undertake vaccination drives. 

Advocate Joveria Sabbah appeared for the petitioners in pleas pertaining to compensation for Covid-19 frontline workers. 

Case Title: Anindya Sundar Das v. Administration of High Court at Calcutta and other connected matters 

Click Here To Read/Download Order 






 

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