New Delhi, Mar 15 (PTI) The Delhi High Court on Monday sought response of the Centre on a plea seeking to include people suffering from mental illness in the list of specified comorbidities that will help them get the COVID-19 vaccine on priority basis.
A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jasmeet Singh issued notice to the Centre, Central Mental Health Authority and National Expert Group of Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 and sought their responses and listed the matter for further hearing on April 30.
The court was hearing a PIL which also sought to direct the authorities to frame policy to provide COVID-19 vaccination to homeless mentally ill persons.
The plea has challenged exclusion of mental illness from the list of specified comorbidities for determination of eligibility of citizens in the age group of 45 to 59 years.
Petitioner advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal submitted that apart from the fact that persons with severe mental illness are not covered under the list of specified comorbidities, the Ministry of Health and Family welfare has also capped the benefit of COVID- 19 vaccination only to those persons with disabilities having high support needs.
“As per the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act – 2016, person with disabilities having high support needs are only those persons who carry disability certificate with them.
'The case of the petitioner is that by way of excluding the mental illness from the list of specified comorbidities and further by way of providing benefit of COVID-19 vaccination to persons with disabilities having high support needs, respondents (authorities) have not only prohibited homeless mentally ill persons from availing the benefits of the vaccination but have also created barriers for thousands of persons having severe mental illness and having no disability certificate to get the vaccination,” the plea said.
The petition said homeless persons with severe mental illness have a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 infection due to the fact that they are unable to understand what is happening with them.
“It is because of the said reason that the Indian Psychiatric Society has written two times to the respondents for inclusion of mental illness in the list of specified comorbidities, but to no avail,” it said. PTI SKV DV DV