The Maharashtra government on Thursday told the Bombay High Court that at least 2,053 residents have been given fake Covid-19 vaccines at unauthorised immunisation camps in Mumbai so far, reported PTI.
Chief Public Prosecutor Deepak Thakare, the state government’s counsel, said that nine such unauthorised camps were found in the city and four first information reports had been registered. He said that the state has recorded the statements of 400 witnesses so far.
The state government also submitted the status report of the investigation into the matter before a bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G S Kulkarni. The High Court had asked for the report in the last hearing on Tuesday.
It had also asked the states to formulate and Mumbai’s civic body, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, to frame a policy immediately to avoid such unauthorised vaccination drives.
The bench was hearing a public interest litigation filed by advocate and activist Siddharth Chandrashekhar, seeking the court’s intervention to resolve problems faced by citizens in securing vaccination slots on the CoWIN portal. Advocate Anita Shekhar-Castellino, representing the petitioner, had submitted news reports of fake vaccine drives in Kandivali, Versova and Khar to the court.
On Thursday, Thakare said that one of the accused, Dr Manish Tripathi, was absconding, while another accused Ashish Mishra, was yet to be arrested, reported The Indian Express.
Advocate Anil Sakhare, appearing for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, told the court that the civic body has also filed a police complaint after it came to know about the fake drives.
“We have realised that vaccination certificates were not given to the victims on the same day that they were administered the fake vaccines,” Sakhare said. “Later, certificates were issued using the names of three different hospitals. That is how people realised something was wrong.”
He added that the civic body has written to the Serum Institute of India, which manufactures the Covishield vaccine, to look into the matter.
The High Court said that the state must get the residents tested for any ill effects. “Our anxiety is, what happens to these people who were vaccinated?” the bench asked. “What were they administered and what is the effect of this fake vaccine?”
The bench reiterated its directions passed on Tuesday for a policy to prevent such vaccination drives. “You cannot delay like this, every minute is important,” the court said. “This is an urgent matter. Every minute is important and time is of the essence.”
The government sought more time to respond to it. The High Court then sought affidavits from the state government and the civic body and posted the matter for hearing on June 29.