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Include Lawyers, Judges In COVID-19 Vaccine Priority List: Tamil Nadu Advocates Association

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
4 Jan 2021 1:11 PM GMT
Include Lawyers, Judges In COVID-19 Vaccine Priority List: Tamil Nadu Advocates Association
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The Tamil Nadu Advocates' Association (TNAA) has written 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. The letter highlighted that the government...

The Tamil Nadu Advocates' Association (TNAA) has written 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.

The letter highlighted that the government had made a tentative list of the "priority segment of the society" who would get vaccinated in the first phase of inoculation, which is likely to start in the upcoming weeks. The letter observed that the list doesn't mention lawyers or judges and that this omission by the government was a "matter of shock and surprise."

".. It was a matter of shock and surprise and concern that the list of priority segment does not show inclusion of members of the legal fraternity. It is a case of glaring omission of a deliberate discrimination committed by the officials concerned as the essentiality of a robust judicial machinery cannot be either undermined or underrated," read the letter.

The letter emphasized the importance of the Courts and judicial proceedings. It also shed light on the fact that the Courts and Tribunals have not been able to function properly. Due to this, several cases are "gathering dust in judicial and quasi-judicial forums.."

The TNAA asserted the importance of physical hearings and went on to say that online proceedings cannot replace the physical court hearings.

"It should be borne in mind that virtual courts and online filing and hearing of cases are only stop-gap arrangements, as they can never fully replace a physical, in-person court proceedings. Courts and legal fraternity do not live for themselves, as they use the statute and the Constitution for the betterment of the society at large. Cases concerning individual liberty, safety, security, law and order, civil issues concerning assets and liabilities of individual litigant or corporate entities are all argued day in and day out, as they have a huge bearing on the social and economic well-being of the nation," TNAA averred.

In this context, the TNAA put forth the following demands:

1.To begin with, the central and state governments should immediately declare legal fraternity as essential service personnel, and include them in the list of priority groups eligible for COVID-19 vaccination in the first phase/stage itself.

2.The central and state governments shall immediately contact the Bar Council of India and the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry for the list of practising lawyers, and contact them through whatever means possible, including electronic/online or in-person.

3. The central and state governments shall work in coordination with the Bar Council at the Centre and the state to conduct vaccination camps in the first phase/stage of inoculation for frontline health warriors, and others.

4.The governments should make available the necessary number of vials/doses of the vaccination to the Bar Council at the Centre and the States, so that all members of the legal fraternity could be reached outwithout fail.

5. Bar councils should make available their premises to the government officials involved in inoculation, and help them administer the vaccination to all lawyers, judicial officers and judges.

Before concluding, the letter also warned that if the COVID-19 vaccine is not made available to the lawyers and judges on a priority basis, then TNAA will be forced to consider legal options.

"The TNAA hereby puts the central and state governments on notice that if lawyers and judicial officers are not declared as priority professional eligible for inoculation in the first phase, the TNAA will approach the competent judicial forums and obtain necessary judicial orders and directives. TNAA shall not be held liable for any cost and delay caused by such a lawful exercise, as it is the failure of the government and its bureaucrats which would leave the TNAA without any other option but to approach judicial forums."

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