The Bombay High Court on Tuesday took a serious note of the spate of fake coronavirus (COVID) vaccination scams in Mumbai and asked Maharashtra government and the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corp (BMC) to catch the kingpins and unearth the entire racket. The HC also asked them to put together a policy to ensure that citizens are not scammed and submit their plan before it by Thursday.
A division bench of chief justice Dipankar Datta and justice Girish Kulkarni was upset that scamsters were playing with people’s lives to make money and ordered the state to ensure that the scamsters are punished strictly. The HC has also directed the state to track vaccines being released.
The bench, while hearing a petition filed by an activist, was informed that there were multiple instances of housing societies and educational institutions being scammed by persons claiming to be attached with some private hospitals and holding fraudulent vaccination camps. The scam came to light only after people ‘who got vaccinated’ could not get their certificates verified.
The court has also directed the BMC to ensure that the medical officer of each ward is keeping track of vaccination drives being conducted privately in their respective wards. The bench noted that the fraud was reported only in the western suburbs and asked the state to track and trace the main perpetrators and the brains behind it.
About 390 residents of Hiranandani Heritage Club in Kandivali (West) were vaccinated against Covid-19 on 30 May 2021. The beneficiaries paid a total of Rs4.56 lakh, which amounted to Rs1,260 each dose. However, the vaccinating team did not have laptops and the vaccine beneficiaries received certificates in the name of different hospitals.
The Kandivali housing society, which recently came into limelight for an alleged vaccination scam was not the only one to fall for the scam. Bollywood producer Ramesh Taurani found himself in a similar situation after 365 of his employees, who were jabbed on 3rd June did not receive their vaccine certificates. He has confirmed to the police that Sanjay Gupta from SP Events had carried out the vaccination drive for his staff. Mr Taurani paid Rs1200 per dose plus GST for each of his employees.
In yet another case, a college from Borivali claimed that it may have been cheated in such a vaccination drive on its campus conducted by an event management company earlier in June. The college authorities later lodged a formal complaint with the police.
Meanwhile a similar incident was reported by Matchbox Pictures, which organised vaccination camps for their 150 employees. The production staff got their first shot of Covishield on 29th May (again through SP Events), the same group, which organised camps for Tips and the Kandivali housing society.
In all these cases, (more than the money lost) the people have been worried about what was actually given to them - was it actually Covishield or was it saline water or something else?