MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court on Thursday directed the Maharashtra government to respond to a petition filed by an advocate seeking Z-plus security for Adar Poonawalla, the CEO of the Serum Institute of India (SII) which manufactures the Covishield vaccine against COVID-19.
The petitioner will have to bear in mind while arguing this matter that “India has a good reputation and such proceedings will have an international impact”, the HC said.
A vacation bench of Justices S S Shinde and N R Borkar noted that Poonawalla was doing a great service to the nation.
The Union government has already granted ‘Y’ category security to the Pune-based industrialist.
The bench said, “He (Poonwalla) is doing a good job. As per our knowledge, he has been given Y-Plus security already. The petitioner is seeking Z-plus security. If it is necessary then the state will give (more security).”
The HC directed the government to respond to the plea, filed earlier this month by advocate Datta Mane.
It posted the petition for further hearing on June 1.
Mane in his petition had also sought a direction to police to register an FIR and carry out a probe into the alleged threat to Poonawalla over the supply of vaccine.
If vaccine makers feel unsafe, it could affect the vaccine production, the petition had said.
It said Poonwalla and his family left India and went to London due to the threats they had been receiving.
Poonawalla had said in a recent interview to The Times that he has been receiving threats and pressure from ‘powerful people’ seeking vaccine doses on priority.
The bench on Thursday also sought to know what locus (standing) did Mane have in filing the petition.
To this, Mane’s advocate Pradeep Havnur said any person can set the criminal law in motion.
The court noted that Poonawalla’s father in an interview said he has gone to London for a break.
“The petitioner will have to bear in mind while arguing this matter that India has a good reputation and such proceedings will have an international impact,” the HC said.