As India witnesses’ world’s largest vaccination drive, we even come across the events where many states are lacking the doses and thus cannot cater to the citizenry.
The shortage of vaccines in India is sighted in many states which results in mismanaging the situation and people facing difficulties in getting inoculated. The Karnataka high court on Thursday observed that depriving the citizens of the second dose of vaccine is violating the citizen’s fundamental right to life under article 21 of the Indian constitution.
The HC in its order said “Once the dose is due it is the obligation of the state govt to provide the second dose. If a second dose is not provided, it will be a violation of the fundamental right of citizens under article 21.”
It further added that both the central and the state governments should issue a mandatory direction towards procurement of the vaccines on time to ensure each citizen of the nation gets the second dose of the jab when they are due for it.
As per the report of Live law, the bench of Chief justice Abhay Oka and Justice Arvind Kumar ordered the state govt to tell the people of the state truth and make them aware of the real situation of availability of vaccines in the state. They quoted “Your ministers and others should tell the truth to the public. You (state) must come clean for the benefit of the members of the people. Tell the truth to the public, don’t make any inconsistent statements to them. Put up the data of the available vaccines on some websites.”
The court observed that as of the date the state has 12.32 lakh doses available. In the observation made before on May 11, the court said it was on record that 26 lakh beneficiaries and 5 lakh frontline workers which makes a total of 31 lakh beneficiaries were deprived of the second dose of the vaccines although they were due for it.
The HC also asked the Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati on their road map to bridge the gap of shortage. The ASG on behalf of the Centre assured the state that every possible try would be made to fill the gap and ensure that all the beneficiaries who have got their first jab will get their second one within the designated time.
The bench noted “Now the stand of the state is that in the case of 14,87,262 COVISHIELD beneficiaries and 5,10,467 COVAXIN beneficiaries are due for the second dose, out of the stock of 12,32,960 available. Thus, there will be a gap of approximately 8.37 lakh vaccine doses.”
In the arguments, ASG Bhati brought to light the matter that the central govt has issued three letters to all the state govt for the worthwhile use of the vaccines in which the states were guided to use the allocated vaccines in the 70:30 ratio for the second dose and first dose respectively.
She added that the expert body of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization in India is looking into the matter as to what can happen if the timelines for getting a second shot are not followed. She ensures that the report of the same will be soon in their hands. As of now, it is advised to take the second dose of Covishield after 6 to 8 weeks and that of Covaxin after 4 to 6 weeks (after the first dose).
On being asked about whether the states can use the vaccine doses of 8094 lakh allotted by the Centre can be used to inoculate the 18 to 44 year age group, Bhati cleared the air that as per the strict guidelines of the Central govt the vaccine doses allotted will be a priority given to the due of second dose takers followed by the first dose takers.
The bench of two Justice noted “if those who have taken the first dose are not administered the second dose as per timeline prevailing today. Apart from the violation of fundamental rights under Article 21, if they are made to take the first dose again it will be a national waste of resources.”
The ASG suggested on behalf that if the state govt on immediate action furnishes entire district-wise data of persons to whom the second dose is to be regulated in excel sheets it will make the task easy for the Centre to bridge the gap of the shortages. And it is in this concern that the central govt is not issuing any mandatory directions.
The court also claimed that “It is absolutely necessary for the state govt to abide by the guidelines issued by the central govt, as the desperate situation created in the state as of today can be avoided in the future. It is mandatory for the state govt to have a rational and fair formula for dispensing a second dose.”
On Thursday, the bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Arvind Kumar said that priority of vaccines should be given to the people with disability as they stated “By not giving priority there was a violation of the fundamental rights of the persons with disability. Yet, the situation is such that priority will have to be given to providing a second dose.”
The court on Thursday passed the order that the vaccine doses available with the state should be at priority utilized to administer the second dose as per the central govt guidelines. The court referred to the situation to be unfortunate as they are not in any position to issue any direction. “Nonetheless, steps taken at the district level shall be placed on record by the state government on May 19” the bench quoted.
DISCLAIMER: This article reflects author’s view point. Goa Chronicle may or may not subscribe to views of the author