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Bombay High Court Labeled as “Selfish” Plea for Priority Vaccination to Judiciary

Bombay High Court Labeled as “Selfish” Plea for Priority Vaccination to Judiciary

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MUMBAI, Mar 10: The Bombay High Court on Wednesday adjourned the hearing on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking COVID-19 vaccination for lawyers and judges on priority calling the move “selfish” and advising the petitioners to leave some of the decisions to the “executive’s wisdom.”

A bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G S Kulkarni was hearing a plea filed by Mumbai-based lawyers, seeking that members of the judiciary, advocates and their staff be considered as frontline workers and they be provided vaccine against COVID-19 on a priority basis.

The petitioners, advocates Vaishnavi Gholave and Yogesh Morbale, filed the plea last week through their counsels Vinod P Sangvikar and Yashodeep Deshmukh.

The petitioner lawyers told the bench on Wednesday that the HC worked throughout the pandemic period and all lawyers, judges, and staff continued to work, regardless of the risk of contracting the viral infection.

Complementing the government for “doing a fine job” with the ongoing vaccination programme in the country, the bench reminded the petitioners that many others, such as sanitation workers and staff of several private organisations were also continued to work in this period.

“Why not file a PIL for the staff of private organisations, dabbawalas? That way everyone is a frontline worker,” the bench said.

“Something should be left for the executive’s wisdom. Tell us what is wrong with the policy? A policy decision cannot be interfered with by the court unless there is arbitrariness,” it said.

The court said it was rather “selfish” of the petitioners to seek vaccination on priority for the judiciary.

“Have you seen the movie ”Titanic”? Do you recollect captain of ship? He has to wait till others are evacuated. First everyone gets it and then judiciary. I am the captain here,” Chief Justice Datta said.

When the Union government’s counsel Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh told the HC that similar matters were pending in various other high courts across the country and that a plea was pending before the Supreme Court to transfer all the applications to the top court, the HC decided against making any observation on the policy decision till the apex court decided on the transfer plea.

Singh also said the Bharat Biotech, which has developed the COVID-19 vaccine ”Covaxin”, had filed an application before the Supreme Court for transferring all the applications to the top court.

The court said if and when the government decided to vaccinate members of the judiciary, the ASG and other lawyers must suggest that lawyers working under the legal services authority were considered first.

(Manas Dasgupta)


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