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Higher functionary from state must assure protection to Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawalla: Bombay HC tells Maharashtra govt

09:17 PM Jun 01, 2021 | Narsi Benwal

The Bombay High Court bench of Justices Sambhaji Shinde and Ajay Ahuja on Tuesday expressed concern regarding the protection of Adar Poonawalla, the head of Serum Institute of India (SII), the company responsible for the production of Covishield vaccines.

The bench said that a higher functionary from the state must call Poonawalla and assure him full protection. The HC has also asked the Maharashtra government to give out the exact details of the number of personnel deployed for Poonawalla's security.

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This comes after the bench was informed that at present Poonawalla has been given Y grade security and that personnel from the central reserved police force (CRPF) are also accompanying him.

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The submission was made by Chief public prosecutor Deepak Thakare while responding to a PIL filed by advocate Datta Mane highlighting the alleged threats being given to Poonawalla by certain businessmen and politicians who demanded a greater quantity of the Covishield vaccine. Mane, in his PIL has also highlighted the fact that Poonawalla flew to the United Kingdom because of the threats.

On Tuesday, when the matter came up, Thakare submitted a note that stated that Poonawalla is presently given Y security, which prompted Justice Shinde to inquire about the number of people guarding him since he is playing a very "substantial" role in the country's fight against Covid19 virus.

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"Since this manufacturing (of Covishield) is in our state, which is considered a welfare state, modern state, it is our expectation that somebody from the home ministry should speak to him and assure him protection," Justice Shinde said.

The judge further clarified that this isn't an order but "merely a belief" of the bench. "His (Poonawalla's) company will be manufacturing lot more vaccines now. So,we need to rethink his security. Assurance should be given from the top level to him. If few words are spared by highest functionaries from the state home ministry," Justice Shinde added, while adjourning the matter for hearing till June 10.

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