Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Monday directed the Maharashtra government to file an affidavit mentioning how many mentally ill persons have been identified and tested positive for COVID-19. ) those who were homeless or had no legal guardian who were registered for anti-vaccination.
A bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Dutt and Justice GS Kulkarni directed the state government to file the affidavit within three weeks. The bench also directed the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to file an affidavit containing information about such people registered for vaccination and the number of persons already vaccinated in the city.
The bench was hearing a PIL seeking better access to anti-COVID-19 vaccination for citizens. It has also been said in the petition that people who are mentally unsound or are not in a position to give consent for vaccination should also be included in this.
On Monday, Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, appearing for the central government, told the bench that while the Center had issued an SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) for vaccination of homeless and mentally ill people, it is the responsibility of the state police to Identify them, trace them, trace their relatives or take them to a shelter home so that they can be registered to receive the vaccine.
Singh also said that over 21,000 urban homeless people across the country have been registered for vaccination and more than 8,000 of them have been vaccinated against COVID-19. Maharashtra government’s counsel Geeta Shastri submitted an affidavit stating that a total of 1,761 mentally ill people across the state have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
The bench, however, said there was “no mention” in the state’s affidavit on the number of mentally ill people who are homeless, legally without guardians and not in a position to consent to immunization.
The court said that such people are at high risk of spreading the corona virus and hence, they should be identified and vaccinated at the earliest by the state authorities. “Every citizen, in whatever condition he is, should be looked after by the state,” the court said.
The court asked the state government, “File an affidavit stating how many mentally unsound people who are homeless or found roaming in the community and what steps are being taken to vaccinate them?” The court suggested that the state and the BMC may jointly work out a system to identify and vaccinate such homeless and mentally ill people.
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