MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court on Monday directed the Union government to file an affidavit explaining the process of procuring COVID-19 vaccines and allotting them to states.
A bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice GS Kulkarni, which is hearing PILs seeking redressal of issues faced by citizens while booking vaccination slots on the CoWin portal, asked the Centre to file the affidavit by August 27.
Earlier this month, the HC had asked Maharashtra and the Centre as to why citizens could not be informed well in advance of available vaccination slots so that there was no last minute rush for booking on the portal.
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On Monday, the Maharashtra government, in its affidavit replying to the PIL, said the Centre notified state governments of the number of vaccine vials being allocated to them, which were then provided directly by the vaccine manufacturers.
As per the affidavit, vaccine manufacturers Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute of India supplied the allocated number of vials to ‘Maharashtra state vaccine store’ in Pune, which were then given to eight designated circle heads comprising municipal authorities and state health department officials, who in turn distributed the vaccines to district level authorities.
The affidavit informed that, since May 2021, the Union government had been notifying the Maharashtra government “fortnightly” of its share of vaccines.
However, its further said, the date of supply of vaccines by manufacturers varies and, therefore, the state was unable to inform people of available vaccination slots in advance.
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The Union government’s counsel, Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, told HC the Centre gives “information in advance to all states and Union Territories so that they can prepare district-wise and CVC-wise plan for acceleration of vaccination coverage.”
Meanwhile, senior counsel Anil Sakhre, appearing for Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, told HC that, as per the civic body’s records, a total of 63,40,138 people in Mumbai had received their first dose of COVID vaccines, and 21,61,939 people had received both doses.
Sakhre further said of the 2,053 victims of fake COVID vaccination camps in the metropolis, the BMC had re-vaccinated 133, while 130 had got themselves re-vaccinated privately and 127 of the victims had refused to get re-vaccinated.
The HC then directed the Centre to place, in an affidavit, its submissions and details of the units of vaccine vials allocated to Maharashtra.
The HC will continue hearing the PILs next week.