NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday stayed further proceedings before Delhi High Court in a suo motu matter relating to giving lawyers priority in Covid-19 vaccination as a similar issue is pending before the apex court.
A Bench headed by Chief Justice of SA Bobde also issued a notice on pleas filed by vaccine manufacturers Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech seeking transfer of cases to the top court. The Bench asked Delhi High Court to not proceed in the matter.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for Centre told the court that it will be difficult to create a class in lawyers for vaccination.
The two companies, which have developed and are manufacturing COVID-19 vaccines in India, have also sought transfer of a case pending before the Delhi High Court to the apex court.
The Delhi High Court, had earlier this month, registered a suo motu PIL based on a letter sent by the Bar Council of Delhi and had directed SII and Bharat Biotech to disclose their capacities to manufacture Covaxin and Covishield vaccines.
During the hearing, Chief Justice said advocates can make money only when they come in contact of people. This is where these claims come from and that’s why High Court is looking into it. Can advocates be also on your expert committee?
“How do I distinguish a lawyer colleague of mine who is 30 to 35 and another one who is a vegetable vendor who is 30 to 35 and also in touch with others in the market,” asked the Solicitor General.
“Tomorrow journalists may make such a demand and say they also come in contact with others,” Mehta said, adding that doctors are being vaccinated as they are frontline workers.
Solicitor General said Centre has to prioritize and channelize the vaccines and that India has the largest network and has vaccinated the most.
“We have no doubt that government has distinguished itself by supplying vaccines to all around the world,” CJI said.
Mehta further said there is a Committee and is functional one to see how vaccination will work. “Let the legal fraternity make one representation and I will submit before the expert group,” he said.
Earlier, the Central government had opposed a PIL seeking prioritisation in giving COVID-19 vaccination to Judges, lawyers and judicial staff across the country, and said that it can’t prioritise vaccination on the basis of profession or trade.
The Central government in its affidavit has submitted before the apex court opposed to extend COVID-19 vaccine for the lawyers and others in the judiciary below 45 years of age, saying it would be discriminatory compared to other professionals.
It has stated that lawyers and staff who are above 60 years of age or are above 45 years old with co-morbidities are anyways covered by the present vaccination drive.
The Central government has filed the affidavit in a PIL filed by one Arvind Singh seeking inclusion of judges, lawyers and court staff in the priority list for COVID-19 vaccination.
The country started its vaccination drive on January 16 with priority given to all healthcare and frontline workers in the first phase. The second phase started on March 1 where doses are being administered to people above the age of 60 and those between 45 and 59 years with specific co-morbidities. (ANI)