The Bombay High Court has expressed its displeasure over the manner in which the state government responded to PIL seeking directions for formulating a policy for vaccinating mentally challenged persons, who do not have the capability to take an informed decision.
The division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G.S. Kulkarni, after perusing affidavit filed by the State Government, said: “We are also sceptical if the measures proposed by the Central Government for vaccinating people, who are either homeless or mentally ill, because of their mental state and cannot take an informed decision with regard to vaccination, would at all be effective.”
It noted: “Although a Standard Operating Procedure is placed before us, facts and figures are completely absent, thereby disabling us to ascertain how such procedures have been implemented at the ground level.”
Counsel Geeta Shastri, appearing for the state government, sought 10 days to file a better affidavit. The High Court, while allowing the prayer, said: “We propose to make a proper order after reading the affidavit to be filed by the State in terms of this order.”
The matter will now be heard on July 6.
The Court was hearing a plea filed by T.J. Bhanu, who raised the concern with regard to the absence of a policy for vaccinating mentally ill persons, who do not have the capability to take an informed decision. According to Bharucha, counsel for the petitioner, the Standard Operating Procedure issued by the Central Government on National Covid Vaccination Drive is silent on this aspect.
On June 9, Additional Government Pleader Shastri, appearing for the state government submitted that a reply affidavit shall be filed by the State, which dealt with the concern raised by the petitioner.
The Court had also noted in its order: “Having read the advisory dated May 27, 2021, we have our doubts as to whether the same covers vaccination of an individual who is mentally ill and has to be dealt with, in accordance with the provisions of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017.”