Decide on plea for priority in COVID vaccination to NRIs, students going abroad: Delhi HC to Centre

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Monday directed the central government to decide “as early as possible” a representation by an NGO for priority in COVID vaccination to NRIs and students who have to go abroad for studies.

A bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh said the representation of May 20 by NGO Pravasi Legal Cell be decided in accordance with the law, rules, regulations and government policy applicable to the case.

With the direction, the court disposed of the PIL. The NGO had moved the court as it received no response to its representation. The NGO, represented by advocate Jose Abraham, had also sought inclusion of passport numbers in the vaccination certificates of those intending to travel abroad.

Pravasi Legal Cell, in its plea filed through advocates MP Srivignesh, Robin Raju and Deepa Joseph, claimed that NRIs who came to India during the COVID-19 outbreak globally have to now return to their respective countries where they reside or work in view of decline in infections in many countries and resumption of international flights.

The petition said that foreign nations only allow entry to those persons who are vaccinated and if preference is not given to such individuals, it would badly affect them.

It also said that the US and European countries are only permitting entry to those students who have been vaccinated and therefore, it was important to give priority to such persons as the academic year in the US, the UK and other European nations commences from August-September.

It had further said that most foreign countries accept the vaccination certificate only when they have the passport number on it. “So, a vaccination certificate carrying the Aadhaar number in place of the passport number cannot be produced as a valid document with the latest rules in many countries,” it had added.

It had also claimed that people who have received both doses of Covaxin are also not allowed to travel internationally as the vaccine, manufactured by Bharat Biotech, has not been included in the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Emergency Use Listing (EUL) yet.

“So, it is humbly submitted that the respondent (Centre) must take appropriate steps in this regard so no difficulty is faced by the people travelling abroad even after being fully vaccinated by doses of Covaxin,” it had said.