Cannot order door-to-door vaccination in this diverse country: Supreme Court

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Courts can’t presume that all Covid deaths during second wave were due to negligence: Top Court

New Delhi: Looking at the diverse conditions of the country, door-to-door COVID-19 vaccination is not feasible and it cannot pass a general direction to just scrap the existing policy, the Supreme Court said on Wednesday.

The top court, which refused to entertain a plea of a lawyers' body seeking door-to-door COVID-19 jab for the disabled and people belonging to weaker sections of society, said the vaccination drive is already in progress and over 60 per cent of the population has been administered the first dose.

A bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud, Vikram Nath and Hima Kohli asked the petitioner 'Youth Bar Association' to approach the competent authority at the Health Ministry with its suggestions. "In Ladakh the situation is different from Kerala. In Uttar Pradesh the situation is different from any other state. In Urban areas the situation is different from rural areas. There are different kinds of problems in every state in this vast country," the bench said. "With one brush you want an order for the entire country. The vaccination drive is already in progress and over 60 per cent of the population has been administered the first dose.

One should understand the difficulty. This is a matter of governance; we cannot just scrap the existing policy," it added. The top court told advocate Baby Singh, appearing for the association that a petition cannot be filed in a callous manner. The petition sought direction to the Union of India and all states for door to door COVID vaccination of less privileged, disabled, weaker sections of society as they face difficulty in registering themselves on the CoWIN portal.

In another case, the Supreme Court said that courts cannot presume that all deaths due to COVID-19 in the second wave of the pandemic were due to negligence as it refused to entertain a plea seeking compensation for the kin of the victims by treating it as medical negligence.

A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, Vikram Nath and Hima Kohli asked the petitioner Deepak Raj Singh to approach the competent authorities with his suggestions. The bench said, "To assume that each death due to COVID-19 took place due to negligence is too much. The second wave had such an impact across the country that it cannot be presumed that all deaths happened due to negligence. Courts cannot have a presumption that all Covid deaths happened due to medical negligence, which your petition does". The top court referred to a recent verdict of June 30, in which it had directed the National Disaster Management Authority to recommend within six weeks appropriate guidelines for ex-gratia assistance on account of loss of life to the family members of persons, who died due to COVID-19. It said, "in that verdict the court has taken a view with regard to humanity and not due to negligence. The government is yet to come out with the policy. If you have any suggestion with regard to implementation of that policy, you can approach the competent authority".

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