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Covid-19 vaccination for judges, lawyers: Centre says giving priority on basis of profession discriminatory

The Central Government said apart from being discriminatory, the prayer is not in the national interest. "Covid-19 vaccination drive cannot be carried out based on a separate class for lawyers.

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The Central Government has said that prioritizing Covid-19 vaccination on the basis of professions will be discriminatory in its counter-affidavit in the Supreme Court to a PIL seeking priority jabs for judges, lawyers, and other members of the legal fraternity.

The Central Government said apart from being discriminatory, the prayer is not in the national interest. “Covid-19 vaccination drive cannot be carried out based on a separate class for lawyers. It is not in the national interest to prioritize vaccination based on profession.”

The Government said that till March 5, more than 5.13 crore people have been vaccinated across the country. It has been informed that if there is a maximum limit and capacity for the production of vaccines, then priority has to be set. Without doing so, the most needy cannot be vaccinated in time.

“Vaccination policy is the domain of the executive. In the interest of the nation, the court may not interfere. In view of the limited manufacturing of vaccines, there is a need for prioritization of beneficiaries and priority given as per WHO guidelines,” the affidavit reads.

On the other hand, petitioner Arvind Singh alleged that the police, security personnel, revenue workers, health workers were vaccinated on the policy of applying vaccine on a priority basis. But people belonging to the judicial sector are not included in this.

Moreover, vaccine makers Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech have sought the transfer of all cases pending regarding Covid-19 vaccine to the Supreme Court. The bench led by CJI S.A. Bobde, Justice A.S. Bopanna and Justice V. Ramasubramanian heard the plea on Monday. Senior Advocate Harish Salve appeared for Serum Institute and Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi appeared for Bharat Biotech.

Salve informed the Court that they have filed transfer petition seeking transfer of cases from High Court to the Supreme Court. The transfer plea will be heard on March 18 along with the PIL seeking to prioritize judges and lawyers for the COVID-19 vaccines.

It is pertinent to note that the Delhi High Court had taken suo motu cognizance of the demand for recognition of judges, lawyers, court staff as ‘frontline warriors’ for the purpose of priority in giving Covid vaccines. The Bombay High Court took a contrasting approach with respect to a similar petition.

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