No law prohibits BMC from starting door-to-door vaccination: HC judge

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Mumbai, Jun 29 (PTI) A Bombay High Court judge on Tuesday commended the job done by the BMC in COVID-19 management but sought to know what was stopping the civic body from introducing door-to-door vaccination in the metropolis for people who cannot leave their homes.

Justice Gautam Patel said there is no law that restricts any public administration from starting doorstep vaccination and maintained courts cannot micromanage their actions or always offer solutions.

He made the remarks while speaking at a panel discussion held at the launch of the Maharashtra office of the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, an independent think-tank conducting legal research to improve laws for better governance.

The centre, according to the think-tank, will work on critical legal reforms to shape a modern Maharashtra.

Justice Patel emphasized on the need for laws to give public administration authorities enough room to move and manoeuvre rapidly with changing times.

“A failure to govern may call for judicial intervention. But when there is a demand for more from the executive, which is what most of the PILs (public interest litigations) are seeking for, then there is a head-to-head confrontation between the judiciary and the executive,” he noted.

The judge said the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's management of the COVID-19 pandemic in a densely populated city like Mumbai was 'brilliant'.

“The BMC was able to pivot immediately and revert rapidly in changing times because of not so many laws and rules. There was a discretionary power with the BMC to come up with innovative ways,” Justice Patel said.

The judge, however, questioned the BMC on not starting door-to-door vaccination of people who are not able to leave their homes and go to vaccine centres due to age and health-related reasons.

“There is no law that restricts any public administration from starting door-to-door vaccination. You (public administration) need not wait for the court to pass a direction. Develop a policy on this. There is no restriction,” Justice Patel said.

He said public administrations cannot always expect solutions to come from courts. “Courts cannot micromanage a public administration's actions,” the judge said.

Justice Patel further said the government needs to pay attention to the public healthcare system, which has come in focus due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Public health is long neglected in our country and this needs to change,” he said.

The HC judge cautioned against using certain words while referring to mental health-related issues.

“Even while dealing with mental health, the language used in government orders and documents while referring to people suffering with mental health issues is a shocker. We do not use words like retards or mentally retarded,” Justice Patel said.

A HC bench is currently hearing a PIL filed by two advocates seeking a direction to the Union government to start door-to-door vaccination for senior citizens above the age of 75, specially-abled persons and those who are bedridden. PTI SP RSY RSY

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