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Its Govt.'s Prerogative To Decide On Priority In The Matter Of Administering COVID Vaccine: Orissa High Court

Sparsh Upadhyay
21 Feb 2021 4:12 PM GMT
Its Govt.s Prerogative To Decide On Priority In The Matter Of Administering COVID Vaccine: Orissa High Court
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The Orissa High Court last week dismissed an interim application (filed in a plea) seeking direction to the State authorities to accord priority to the members of the judiciary in the matter of administration of COVID vaccine. While dismissing the application, the Bench of Chief Justice Dr. S. Muralidhar and Justice K. R. Mohapatra observed, "Given the large number of caregivers...

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The Orissa High Court last week dismissed an interim application (filed in a plea) seeking direction to the State authorities to accord priority to the members of the judiciary in the matter of administration of COVID vaccine.

While dismissing the application, the Bench of Chief Justice Dr. S. Muralidhar and Justice K. R. Mohapatra observed,

"Given the large number of caregivers and frontline workers who are yet to be given both doses of the vaccine, and considering the limited availability, at this stage, of the vaccines in question, this Court is not inclined to issue any direction of the nature prayed for in this application."

Importantly, the Court also opined,

"It is for the State government to decide which section of the population should be accorded priority in the matter of administering vaccine doses, keeping in view the exigencies and constraints."

Plea's background

A large number of orders have already been passed by the Court in the instant Writ Petition which was filed in the light of the situation arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Interim directions have been issued from time to time postponing the enforcement of orders and statutory proceedings in light of the emergent circumstances under which it was not feasible to access Courts and Tribunals easily for relief.

In this petition, the instant application was filed which demanded that the members of the judiciary should be accord priority in the matter of administration of vaccination doses as a preventive measure against the Covid-19 pandemic.

While dismissing the instant application, the Court also dismissed the petition and all pending applications as the Court didn't find it necessary to keep the petition pending.

Similar Demands in News

The Supreme Court last week said that it will consider a PIL seeking inclusion of lawyers, judges and court-staff in the priority list for COVID vaccine.

A bench headed by the Chief Justice of India posted after two weeks the petition filed by Arvind Singh saying that judiciary and lawyers should also be regarded as frontline workers at par with doctors, police etc and should receive priority for the vaccine.

While noting that no further orders are required to be passed, the Telangana High Court last month disposed of a plea demanding that Advocates and the court staff ought to be administered COVID-Anti Virus Vaccine on an urgent and priority basis.

The Bench of Chief Justice Hima Kohli and Justice A. Abhishek Reddy took into account the submission made by the Advocate General that the priority list has been drawn by the Central Government, which has been adopted by the State of Telangana.

It may be noted that the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) last month wrote to Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union Minister for Law and Justice, requesting for the extension of the vaccination program to Judges, judicial staff and members of the legal fraternity, and to include them in the category of "frontline workers".

Last month, the Tamil Nadu Advocates' Association (TNAA) also wrote letter to the Union and State Health Ministry, as well as the Chief Justices of the Madras High and Supreme Court, demanding that lawyers and judges be included in the priority list of people who are qualified to get the COVID-19 vaccinations in the first phase of its administration.

About the Vaccines

India's top drug regulator, Drugs Controller General of India's (DCGI) earlier this month approved Serum Institute of India'sCovishield' and Bharat Biotech's 'Covaxin' for restricted emergency use against COVID-19 in the country.

The 2 Companies rolled out their vaccines on 16th January 2021.

It is important to note that Covishield is a version of the vaccine developed by the University of Oxford in collaboration with Swedish-British drugmaker AstraZeneca, that has already got emergency use approval in the UK.

Covaxin is India's only indigenous Covid-19 vaccine and which has been developed by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research's National Institute of Virology, Pune.

In related news, Activist Saket S. Gokhale has moved the Bombay High Court against the Drugs Controller General of India, urging that the safety and efficacy trial results of Bharat Biotech's Covid-19 vaccine "Covaxin" be made public.

The petition states that whereas vaccinations in India begin from January 16, and it is being claimed that Covaxin is safe and provides a robust immune response, the data submitted by the Company in this behalf has not been made available in the public domain.

He has contended that the vaccine is still in phase 3 of clinical trial and hence, there remains a great possibility of harm to the life of members of the general public that are being administered this vaccine.

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