The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday quizzed the State and Central government over the shortage of vaccines in the State asking how the authorities are proposing to administer the second dose of vaccines to those who are above 45 years of age.
The State government told the Court that it is stopping first dose for now and will give only second dose.
But the Bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Aravind Kumar was not convinced about the availability of vaccines in the State.
“Only 9 lakh doses available. 16 lakh people need second dose immediately. Forget about 18-44 age group. They can’t even give second dose. For people above 45 years, how will State give second dose,” the Court asked.
The Bench asked the State about the implications if first dose of vaccine is administered but the second dose is not given on time.
“Covaxin second dose has to be taken within 4 weeks,” the Bench remarked.
The Court went on to note that situation regarding the availability of vaccine in the State is very disturbing.
“As per the target of 1.71 crore, 72 lakh have been given first dose and over 11 lakh given second dose. Hence, it is obvious that if the present scenario continues, the first dose cannot be given to front-line workers and 18-44 years,” the Court noted.
“If the present scenario continues, the entire vaccination drive will be completely ineffective,” the Court added.
The Court, therefore, ordered the State to come out with a road map as regards vaccination.
“We hope and trust that if both the governments don’t take serious note of the desperate situation of vaccination and if more number of vaccinations not procured, the very object of vaccination will be frustrated. It may have a cascading effect,” the order said.
The hearing of the case on Tuesday also dealt with the below aspects.
Availability of Oxygen
On availability of Oxygen, the Court was apprised that Centre has increased the quantity of oxygen supplied to the State, from 965 MT to 1200 MT.
The Court, however, noted that “no document has been placed on record to show that Central govt has increased the allocation of quota of Oxygen to 1200 MT, though ASG states that compliance has been made.”
The Court therefore proceeded to direct the State government to place on record its daily requirement of Oxygen from May 5 till May 11 and quantum of oxygen actually procured. The State government should also place on record projected requirement of state for at least for 1 week from tomorrow, the Court further directed.
The Court also requested the Advocate General to convene a meeting of officials on Wednesday to deal with the issue. Necessary details should be placed on record by the State day after tomorrow, directed the Court.
The Bench was told that there is a proposal to distribute 10 Kg of food grains to NPHH cardholders at Rs 50. The Court directed implementation of the same.
Meanwhile, urban local bodies should continue functioning and provide food packets. The Court also recorded the submission by State that dry ration kits should be supplied at the doorsteps of identified individuals. The quantum of food items included in the ration kit should be sufficient for 21 days, the Court added.
The Court also recorded the State’s submission that Indira canteens will provide food free of cost.
As result of lockdown, some sections of society are without income. Therefore, the object of the exercise should be that such citizens should get food during this period, the Court observed.
The State should consider starting a helpline number to deal with grievances in this regard, the Court said.
During the hearing, few advocates raised the issue of police using force against citizens amid the COVID-19 lockdown, which was imposed in the State about 2 weeks ago.
Amicus Curiae, Vikram Huilgol reminded the Bench that during the last lockdown (last year), the court had directed DGP to issue a circular directing to refrain from using excessive force to implement the lockdown.
The Advocate General stated that even Police officers are working amid COVID-19, and are, therefore, under a lot of pressure.
The Court said that those stepping out for essentials should be allowed.
“Police excesses should be avoided and people must co-operate with the government. If people not co-operating, take them to nearest police station,” the Bench opined.
It eventually passed the following order on the issue:
“Our attention is invited to what is observed in order dated March 30, 2020. AG says he will take up the issue with concerned authority so that action can be taken.”
The matter will be next taken up tomorrow.