Bombay HC gives Centre a week to decide on BMC’s plan to re-vaccinate victims of fake drives

The court’s direction came after it was informed that the BMC had prepared a re-vaccination plan for such citizens but were awaiting deletion of their original registrations on CoWin.

The Bombay High Court Friday gave the Centre seven days to decide on the proposed plan of action put forth by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to re-vaccinate over 2,000 victims of unauthorised vaccination camps held in the city.

The court’s direction came after it was informed by the BMC that the municipal corporation had already prepared a re-vaccination plan for such citizens but were awaiting deletion of their original registrations on the CoWin portal.

A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish S Kulkarni was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Mumbai-based lawyer Siddharth Chandrashekhar seeking priority vaccination slots for the elderly and the court’s intervention on issues faced while booking slots on CoWin.

The bench suggested that the victims of fake drives can be granted fresh registration with some remarks identifying them for re-vaccination. “We are of the view that appropriate authority of the highest level of the Union Government shall act on proposed action plan (of BMC) with or without modifications within seven days,” it noted.

On July 16, the high court had asked the BMC to expedite the process to conduct a separate drive to de-register the victims of fake inoculation drives from the CoWin portal so that they can get vaccinated properly. The HC had also sought to know the measures taken to re-vaccinate the victims. The civic body had then informed the court that at least 2,773 people were given fake vaccines in the form of saline injections in Mumbai.

Representing the BMC, senior advocate Anil Sakhare on Friday submitted that of the 391 such victims at the Hiranandani camp, 363 people were traced and 161 re-vaccinated. Sakhare said the civic authority’s action plan includes deletion of the victims’ CoWin registrations and registering them afresh, which required the Centre’s approval.

Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, representing the central government, said there was no specific provision for deletion of registration, but the Centre will look into the matter.

Meanwhile, Mumbai Police informed the court that Haffkine Institute had sought 30 days to carry out chemical analysis of the fluid used by the fraudsters who organised one such fake drive at Hiranandani Society in Kandivali.

On behalf of the Mumbai Police, Chief Public Prosecutor Aruna Pai submitted that the police report in connection with the FIR registered in Kandivali could not be filed within a fortnight as promised due to unavailability of the chemical analysis report from Haffkine institute. Pai submitted a communication dated July 28 from the institute to the Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) saying that at least 30 days was required to conduct the chemical analysis. Pai said that while the probe was complete, the chargesheet could not be filed as the analysis report was awaited.

“We hope and trust that the Haffkine institute will provide the chemical analysis report as earliest possible. We grant the investigating officer 30 days as requested to complete the probe and place on record the report before this court,” the bench said. The hearing will resume on August 30.

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