Citing feasibility issues, SC rejects door-to-door vaccination plea
New Delhi: Refusing to step in further into executive turf, Supreme Court on Wednesday, rejected a PIL seeking door-to-door Covid-19 vaccination drive and noted that looking at the diverse conditions of the country, door-to-door COVID-19 vaccination is not feasible and it cannot pass a general direction to just scrap the existing policy.
The apex court reminded the petitioner that the court has already nudged the government towards announcing free universal immunisation of all above 18 years of age, and slammed the petitioner saying that such pleas were a product of ignorance about the diversity of the country and complexity of governance.
The top court, which refused to entertain a plea of a lawyers' body seeking door-to-door Covid-19 jab for the disabled and people belonging to weaker sections of society, said the vaccination drive is already in progress and over 60 per cent of the population has been administered the first dose.
A bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud, Vikram Nath and Hima Kohli gave an earful to the petitioner for picking up an issue, without doing any research and rushing to the court with a writ petition. It noted,
"No one applies their mind to its feasibility. Can we say the same condition prevails uniformly from Ladakh to Uttar Pradesh to Kerala? Can we as a court assess the feasibility of a door-to-door vaccination drive given the diverse geographic and pandemic situations as well as complexities of governance? There are issues which cannot be addressed through a single uniform direction for the entire country."
"In Ladakh the situation is different from Kerala. In Uttar Pradesh the situation is different from any other state. In Urban areas the situation is different from rural areas. There are different kinds of problems in every state in this vast country," the bench added.
The top court told advocate Baby Singh, appearing for the association that a petition cannot be filed in a callous manner.
The petition sought direction to the Union of India and all states for door to door COVID vaccination of less privileged, disabled, weaker sections of society as they face difficulty in registering themselves on the CoWIN portal.
It asked the court to direct the government to frame a Standard Operating Procedure for administration of door-to-door vaccines. The petition had also asked for a 24X7 portal for the purpose of this type of vaccination.
"With one brush you want an order for the entire country. The vaccination drive is already in progress and over 60 per cent of the population has been administered the first dose. One should understand the difficulty. This is a matter of governance; we cannot just scrap the existing policy," the bench observed.
It said that to pass general directions in view of the diversity of the country is not feasible and practical and added, "Any directions passed should not impinge upon the existing vaccination policy of the government".
The bench further informed, as quoted by The Hindu, "Vaccination is already under way. The court is monitoring it in a suo motu petition… The Supreme Court has constituted a National Task Force. At this stage it is difficult to give a general direction considering the diversity of this country… We should not impinge upon the administrative power of the State to give vaccine, including door-to-door."
It, however, gave liberty to the petitioner 'Youth Bar Association' to approach the competent authority at the Health Ministry with its suggestions.
PTI reports that when the petitioner's counsel said the Health Ministry should be asked to consider the representation in a time bound manner, the bench said, "We know under how much the pressure the health ministry officials are during these times, they have to look for Oxygen supplies across the country besides looking into other aspects".