HC directs Arunachal to prioritize inoculation of PwDs

ITANAGAR, 28 Jun: The Itanagar permanent bench of the Gauhati High Court (HC) on Monday directed the Arunachal government and three other respondents to make provision for prioritizing inoculation of persons with disabilities (PwD) who have attained the age of 18 years.

The single bench of Justice Nani Tagia, while disposing of a public interest litigation (PIL), directed the government to volunteer for such vaccination as mandated under Section 25 (1) (c) of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, within a period of four weeks from the date of receipt of the order.

The other respondents were the state’s health & family welfare secretary, the National Rural Health Mission director, and the social welfare secretary/commissioner (disabilities).

In his PIL, petitioner Ebo Mili had contended that, though the PwDs are required to be given priority in attendance and treatment as per Section 25 (1) (c) of the act, “the state government has not made any provision to administer Covid-19 vaccine to them in Arunachal by giving them priority in attendance in the administration of the vaccine.”

As per Section 25 of the act, the appropriate government and the local authorities are required to take necessary measures for PwDs and give them priority in attendance and treatment, the court observed.

“The Covid-19 vaccine in Arunachal Pradesh is stated to have been administered free-of-cost to all persons above 18 years of age who volunteer for such vaccination. If it is the policy of the state government to administer free Covid-19 vaccine to all persons above 18 years of age who volunteer for such vaccination, the persons with disabilities under the act of 2016 would be entitled for administration of Covid-19 vaccine on priority basis, including the attendance on priority during such vaccination.

“The appropriate government is, thus, required to make a provision under Section 25 (1) (c) of the act of 2016 for providing priority in attendance and administration of the Covid-19 vaccine to persons with disabilities who are 18 years of age and above, should the persons with disabilities volunteer to get themselves vaccinated,” the court order said.

Meanwhile, the petitioner said the order passed by the high court would come as a great relief for the PwDs.

“From now onwards, they will not have to stand in long queues to get the vaccine,” he said, and expressed hope that the government would not make any delay in implementing the court order.

Counsel for the petitioner, Madan Mili expressed hope that, with the passing of the court order, persons with disabilities, especially those staying in rehabilitation centres, shelter homes and other institutions would be benefitted immensely and their rights protected.