15 March 2021 9:57 AM GMT
The Supreme Court on Monday adjourned to 18th March the PIL filed seeking inclusion of lawyers, judges and court-staff in the priority list for Covid vaccine. The Court will also hear the transfer petitions filed by Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech seeking transfer of cases related to Covid19 vaccine to the Apex Court. A three-Judge Bench of CJI SA Bobde, Justice Bopanna...
The Supreme Court on Monday adjourned to 18th March the PIL filed seeking inclusion of lawyers, judges and court-staff in the priority list for Covid vaccine. The Court will also hear the transfer petitions filed by Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech seeking transfer of cases related to Covid19 vaccine to the Apex Court.
A three-Judge Bench of CJI SA Bobde, Justice Bopanna and Justice Ramasubramanian decided to adjourn the matter after being informed that Transfer petitions have been filed by both Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute.
During the hearing, SG Mehta submitted that they have filed the reply.
Senior Advocate Harish Salve appearing for Serum Institute informed the Court that they have filed transfer petition seeking transfer of cases from High Court to the Supreme Court.
Sr Adv Mukul Rohatgi appearing for Bharat Biotech informed the Court that they have also sought transfer from Delhi HC to SC.
The Delhi High Court has taken suo moto cognizance of the demand for recognition of judges, lawyers, court staff as 'frontline warriors' for the purpose of priority in giving COVID vaccines. The High Court has sought for affidavits from SII and Bharat Biotech on their capacities.
Last week, the Bombay High Court took a contrasting approach with respect to a similar plea. A division bench headed by Chief Justice Dipankar Dutta of Bombay High Court asked why should legal fraternity should be regarded as frontline workers.
The present plea filed by Arvind Singh has stated that, judiciary and lawyers should also be regarded as frontline workers at par with doctors, police etc and should receive priority for the vaccine. It further said that the Centre has identified the population which has to be identified first, but the 'Operational Guidelines' published by Respondents nowhere provides for any mechanism and criteria upon which such priority population groups have been identified, showing arbitrariness The said decision of Respondents is ad-hoc and not based on a rational basis.
During the last hearing before the Supreme Court, Advocate Amik Khemka, appearing for the petitioner, had submitted that the claim of judicial system for COVID19 vacccine has not been considered.
"Police, security forces, revenue officials- all these people have been given priority. But all these people, whatever they do, culminates into the judicial system. Lawyers, judicial staff, judges are not included in the priority list for the vaccine", the lawyer had submitted.
The Supreme Court Bar Association had written to the Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad in January, seeking the inclusion of legal fraternity among the category of 'frontline workers' for COVID19 vaccine. The letter requests for "Judges, judicial staff and members of the legal fraternity" to be included in the category of frontline workers "so that appropriate remedial measures are taken to prioritise and extend this vaccination programme to this class of our citizenry".
In the first week of January, the Drugs Controller General of India approved the use of two vaccines - COVISHIELD of the Serum Institute of India and COVAXIN of Bharat Biotech- for emergency restricted use