The Bombay High Court on Tuesday, while blaming “state failure” for fake and unauthorised Covid vaccination camps, asked the BMC to inform it of measures to verify what was administered to around 2,000 victims of such camps, and to now vaccinate them.
The court also directed the Mumbai Police to ensure that all perpetrators, including “big fish” are booked and an “honest endeavor” is made to go to the root of the issue.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish S Kulkarni was hearing a PIL filed by Mumbai resident Siddharth Chandrashekhar, seeking the court’s intervention over issues faced by people in booking vaccination slots on the CoWin portal. The petitioner also sought priority slots for the elderly.
Advocate Anita Shekhar-Castellino, appearing for Chandrashekhar, had earlier informed the HC about news reports on fake vaccination drives being held in the city.
On June 24, the Mumbai Police informed the HC that over 2,000 people received fake Covid-19 jabs at nine private vaccination camps in Mumbai. The HC had asked the state and the BMC to formulate guidelines to prevent such incidents, and asked for affidavits on this by the next hearing on June 29.
On Tuesday, Chief Public Prosecutor Deepak Thakare for Mumbai Police submitted a progress report of investigations and said that seven crimes have been registered for ‘fake’ vaccination camps, 11 accused have been taken into custody, while one more accused, Dr Manish Tripathi, has surrendered to the police.
“Please tell the police officers that there could be big fishes, who are not investigated and none should be spared irrespective of any colour and probe should be absolutely proper. Lives of citizens are involved and the accused should be punished accordingly,” the bench told Thakare.
After perusing the progress report of the probe so far, the HC noted in the order, “We express our satisfaction in the progress of investigation, however, there ought to be fair and fast investigation. Earnest attempts ought to be made by the investigating officers for suspects who ought to be taken into custody.”
Thereafter, the HC asked the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation to inform it of measures taken for the 2,053 people duped in camps held between May 25 and June 5.
“There appears to be state failure. More than 2000 people have been injected with fake jabs, what are you doing about their vaccination? Whatever tests are required to find out what was administered should be done. Why is BMC not doing it?” the HC asked the civic body.
Senior Counsel Anil Sakhare for BMC submitted that the civic body is finding out what those people were injected with, and thereafter they can either approach hospitals or get antibody tests done and can come for vaccination. “The issue pertaining to vaccination certificates given to them has to be checked by the central government,” he said.
Sakhare further submitted that SOPs for holding vaccination camps for housing societies, commercial premises, educational institutes, etc. will be published by Wednesday.
The petitioner’s counsel submitted that the concerns of students who were victims of the vaccination fraud and have to travel abroad for studies should be considered by the civic body and relief given in a speedy manner.
Seeking response from the BMC and further investigation progress report from the Mumbai Police, the HC posted the matter for Thursday, July 1.