|Case No.||Suo Motu W.P. (C) 3 of 2021||Date of Filing||02/06/2021||Status||Pending||Petitioners||Respondents|
This is a suo motu public interest litigation taken up by the Hon’ble Supreme Court, to ensure that there is a proper and effective distribution of essential supplies and services during the pandemic to the people of India. The Supreme Court has taken cognizance of the large number of COVID-related infections throughout the country and has taken up the issues of supply of oxygen and essential drugs, the method and manner of vaccination and declaration of lockdown. This petition is numbered Suo Motu W.P. (C) 3 of 2021. In this PIL, CLPR has filed an Intervention application on behalf of Karnataka Rajya Vikalachethanara Rakshana Samithi (KRVRS), a charitable trust working toward the betterment of persons with disabilities.
KRVRS submitted to the Court that persons with disabilities are greatly in need of vaccines on priority as they are more vulnerable to contracting COVID. Many of them rely on touch to see or need aid to wash hands. As their day-to-day activities are impaired, the underlying conditions of their disability leave them more likely to contracting COVID. Many persons with disabilities rely on caregivers, increasing their risk of exposure.
Based on Section 25 of the Right of Persons with Disabilities Act, the Government is duty bound to take necessary measures to provide free healthcare in the vicinity of persons with disabilities, barrier free access in both government and private hospitals and give them priority in attendance and treatment. At present, priority is only being accorded to those to persons above 45 years of age, and persons engaged in providing services related to amelioration of the effects of the pandemic, etc.
Persons with disabilities are also unable to access existing vaccines due to the difficulty in registration on the platforms provided by the government of India, CoWin and Aarogya Setu. Though Section 42 of the RPWD Act states that governments must take measures to ensure that all content is accessible, no such initiative has been taken. Hospitals likewise should be accessible to those with physical disabilities, or some alternate mode of administering the vaccine should be provided.
Considering these issues, the reliefs sought from the Supreme Court are:
- To direct the Union of India to include persons with disabilities in the list of priority for vaccination along with the population of 45 years and above;
- To direct the Union of India to make the CoWin application for online registration be made fully accessible as per the accessibility guidelines as required under the RPWD Act and Rules;
- Pass directions that persons with disabilities who are not able to register on the CoWin application have other means of registering such as phone registrations and in-person walk-in registrations for vaccination;
- To direct that all vaccination sites are made accessible and barrier free;
- To direct the Union of India and other Respondents, that, for those who are severely disabled and cannot reach vaccination sites, there should be at-home vaccinations for COVID-19 provided to them and their carers;
- To direct the Union of India to take steps such that all information about vaccination should be made available in accessible formats and sign language across all media
This petition is currently being heard by the Supreme Court. The next date for hearing is to be listed.