The Supreme Court on Thursday stayed hearings on priority Covid-19 vaccination for lawyers, court staff on par with frontline warriors in the Delhi and Bombay High Courts. The Delhi High Court was hearing the matter in suo motu cognizance.
The bench of Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian heard the matter and issued notice on transfer petitions by vaccine makers Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute of India. However, the Centre agreed in the Apex Court that it would examine whether Advocates can be considered as frontline workers for getting vaccine shots on priority.
Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Bharat Biotech, prayed to stay the order of the Delhi High Court. On which CJI Bobde asked, “What was the order of the Delhi High Court?”
Rohatgi read the HC order which had asked the vaccine makers to disclose the manufacturing capacity in volume. He said every court in the Country will ask us to disclose.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitted that the Central government had made vaccination plans after much thought. “We have decided on the basis of age for those who will get the vaccination in the first phase. It is as per the guidelines of the World Health Organization.” He said the Centre supported the vaccine makers request to move the case to the Supreme Court since it can’t be done at state level.
Appearing for Serum Institute of India, Senior Advocate Harish Salve noted, “It is a little embarrassing to see how our courts are reacting, if there is a criterion for vaccination by the government then why are courts interfering in the matter?”
The Apex Court said, “We understand but the Delhi High Court has not directed to provide vaccination but only asked to disclose the capacity.”