The Delhi High Court on Wednesday issued notice in a petition seeking COVID-19 vaccination for persons with disabilities on priority (Mohd Faizal Nawaz vs GNCTD).
A Division Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jasmeet Singh sought responses from the Delhi government and the Central government in the petition filed by Mohd Faizal Nawaz and Meenu Mani.
As per the petitioners, persons with disabilities are disproportionately affected by COVID-19 given that they face much more severe symptoms and suffer a higher mortality rate than the general population.
“Because of differences in their immune systems, those with Down syndrome are at increased risk of contracting infectious diseases, usually of the upper respiratory tract. Global evidence indicates higher rate of deaths among persons with developmental disabilities.
Wearing masks is not an option for those with cerebral palsy, autism or any developmental disability as it is not an object they are used to, and drooling makes masks unusable. Persons with disabilities experience higher risk of contracting the virus as they require close contact with others as a result of personal care needs (activities of daily living), and/or many live in shared settings like a group home. Persons with disabilities experience greater challenges as a result of public health measures such as physical distancing,” the petition said.
The petitioners have thus argued that special provision for preferential treatment of persons with disabilities should be made for administration of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“…treating persons with disabilities at par with persons without disabilities is a violation of the right to equality as well as right to life of persons with disabilities…The Constitutional mandate as submitted above has been given statutory articulation in Section 25 (1) of the Rights of Persons with disabilities (“RPWD”) Act, 2016,” the plea stated.
The petitioners prayed that free of cost vaccination should be carried out for all consenting persons with disabilities along with their care takers.
It was also prayed that vaccination drives be carried out in institutions for abandoned and destitute persons with disabilities as well as mental health institutions and psychiatric nursing homes.
The petitioners were represented by Advocates Siddharth Seem and Joicy.
The matter will be heard next on May 24.