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Persons with disabilities seek Covid vaccine priority, move Delhi HC

The petitioners submitted that persons with disabilities face more severe symptoms and a higher mortality rate due to Covid-19 compared to other persons.

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The Delhi High Court on Wednesday issued notice to the Centre and Delhi Government on a plea seeking directions to treat all persons with disabilities that qualify as per the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 on priority basis for administering Covid-19 vaccine irrespective of their age.

A division bench of Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Jasmeet Singh issued notice to the Government of NCT of Delhi in the petition filed by the petitioner as a Public Interest Litigation seeking directions to the Respondents to treat persons with disabilities on priority basis and to make special provisions for them for administering the vaccine for Covid-19, in terms of the mandate under Section 25 (1) and Section 8 of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (“RPWD”) Act, 2016.

This petition is filed by two petitioners with physical disability. They submitted that it is a well-established principle that the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution of India includes the right to health. And according to Article 14, 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 counsel for these petitioners has submitted before the Court that persons with disabilities are more vulnerable to contracting the virus, as they are unable to follow measures such as social distancing, if they need care-takers, or wearing a mask, such as for persons with cerebral palsy, autism or any developmental disability.

The petitioners submitted that persons with disabilities face more severe symptoms and a higher mortality rate due to Covid-19 compared to other persons.

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They drew the attention of the bench on the issue that the persons with disabilities depend upon medical assistance which has been strained during the pandemic and therefore they suffer from poorer health during the pandemic, whether or not they are infected with Covid-19. The Court will hear the matter on May 24.

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