The Bombay High Court on Tuesday directed the Maharashtra government and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation to form a policy on an “SOS basis” to avoid incidents of frauds or fake vaccination drives.
A bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice GS Kulkarni took cognisance of news reports of one such incident at a housing society in Mumbai’s Kandivali area where residents were inoculated with fake anti-COVID vaccines at a camp organised by the housing society.
The court said the state or municipal authorities must be a part of, or have information of all such private vaccination camps being organised by housing societies and offices to ensure citizens do not suffer. The bench also directed the state government to submit the progress report on the police investigation being carried out into the incident by June 24.
“There has to be a policy. Some intimation or communication among housing societies, hospitals, civic body, so that such incidents do not happen,” the High Court said. “What is the most unfortunate thing here is that when the whole humanity is suffering, some people are still playing frauds of this kind,” it said.
The High Court said the state authorities must not take such incidents lightly, and asked if the fraudsters were being booked under stringent provisions of the Epidemic Diseases Act, or the Disaster management Act. “See to it that the investigation is not delayed. Tell us what is the progress of the investigation. These are serious issues. Fraudsters are playing with the lives of innocent people,” the court said.
“The state and the BMC must come up with a policy or guidelines on an SOS basis for private vaccination camps to avoid similar incidents in future,” it said.
The court made the observations while hearing a PIL filed by lawyer Anita Shekhar Castellino on problems faced by citizens in securing vaccination slots. It also took note of similar incidents of fraud, mentioned in the PIL, that had taken place at another housing society in suburban Borivali and a film production house in the western suburbs.
The court said police must unearth the racket of such frauds. State’s counsel Deepak Thakare told the High Court that there were five persons accused in the Kandivali incident. Out of them, four had been arrested and an accused doctor was on the run. The High Court said the police will have to take steps to arrest all accused persons. It will hear the plea further on June 24.
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