The Karnataka High Court on Thursday, May 13, heard a suo motu case after receiving two letters regarding COVID-19 management in the state. An order given by the court in one of the matters was that all testing laboratories in the state to issue COVID-19 test results within 24 hours of collecting swab samples, Bar and Bench reported.
The direction was issued after a court staff member died on Wednesday, May 12, who was unaware of his being COVID-19 positive as his test result had not returned after his sample was collected on May 10. The bench consisted of Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Aravind Kumar.
The bench also raised concern over the shortage of COVID-19 vaccines in Karnataka, and the delay in administering the second dose of the vaccine for 31 lakh people, including 5 lakh front line workers in Karnataka. The court was informed that though there are 31 lakh people eligible for their second dose, only 11 lakh vaccines were available as of Thursday. “How are you going to bridge the gap?” the bench asked Additional Solicitor General of India (ASG) Aishwarya Bhati. The bench also questioned the ASG about what would happen if a person misses the second dose of the vaccine due to shortage. “Is it not the right of a person under Article 21 to get the second dose in a timely manner?” it said.
The ASG also informed the bench that states have been advised to prioritise vaccination for those above the age of 45 years receiving the second dose of the vaccine, and that 70% of vaccines allotted by the Union government must be dedicated for this purpose. It further asked the Karnataka government why this reservation was not made in the state, to which Advocate General Prabhuling Navadgi said that a response to this will be given later.
“You must come clean before the members of the public... Come with the truth... Some people are going to vaccination centres and coming back. You need to set a priority on who will get vaccines now,” the bench said.
“Your ministers and others should tell the truth to people... Tell the truth to the public, don't make any inconsistent statements to the public. Put up the data of available vaccines on some website,” it further added.
The Karnataka government on Wednesday announced that those receiving the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine will be prioritised, and that the drive for the 18-44 age group will be temporarily suspended in government centres.