HC refuses to entertain plea to relax age criterion for COVID-19 vaccination, allow pvt labs

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New Delhi, Apr 13 (PTI) The Delhi High Court Tuesday refused to entertain a plea seeking direction to the Centre and AAP government to relax the age criterion for COVID-19 vaccination and to allow more private sector participation in the drive.

A bench of Justices Rajiv Sahai Endlaw and Amit Bansal said it appeared that the public interest litigation (PIL) has been filed for publicity rather than doing any good to the society.

“We are prima facie of the view that the court does not have the wherewithal to deal with such matters which require empirical data..,” the high court said.

It said since the petitioner is withdrawing the plea and has understood the consequences and in future will not indulge in such litigation, it was refraining from imposing costs.

The high court was hearing a petition, filed by a final year law student of Delhi University, seeking direction to the authorities to formulate a policy to provide the benefits of vaccination drive to senior citizens, differently-abled persons and poor sections of the society by initiating door-to-door vaccination services in the national capital.

The petitioner Mrigank Mishra, represented through senior advocate Ashish Mohan, said that in the light of the alarming situation of rising coronavirus cases and the second wave which is more severe than the first one, it is pertinent to boost the vaccination drive for which widening of involvement of private sector entities is necessary as it will facilitate rapid and mass vaccination and allow door-to-door vaccination of the citizens.

During the hearing, the court enquired from the petitioner’s counsel as to how many vaccinations are being administered in government and private centres in Delhi and also about the availability of vaccines in the city.

The bench said it appears that unless the availability of vaccines is more than which can be administered, there is no need for the petitioner to even seek relief of widening of the vaccination drive.

The court said it appeared that the petitioner has not done proper homework and that it showed the shallowness with which the petition has been filed for the sake of publicity.

The plea said the current system of vaccination drive involves visitation to centres after securing an appointment on the Co-Win portal and the on-the-spot registrations are very limited in number and often lead to long queues.

Certain classes of citizens including bed-ridden senior citizens, differently-abled persons, poor sections of the society are at disadvantage owing to the present system of vaccination drive, it said.

“It is also necessary to remove/ relax the age restrictions in relation to the beneficiaries of vaccination drive since the increasing number of coronavirus cases are a concern for health and safety of every citizen,” said the plea, filed through advocates Kushal Kumar, Harsh Ahuja, Aadtya Kapoor and Akash Deep Gupta.

The petition arrayed the Union Ministries of Home Affairs and Health and Family Welfare and Delhi government as parties.

It said currently people above the age of 45 years are eligible for vaccines by visiting the designated COVID-19 vaccination centres.

However, considering the ever-rising number of coronavirus cases, availability of infrastructure and resources and in a situation where the governments have ruled out the possibilities of lockdown, expanding the reach of vaccination drive is the only solution to meet the ends.

Delhi recorded over 13,500 cases of COVID-19 in last 24 hours, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Tuesday. PTI SKV SA