New Delhi, Mar 18: The Supreme Court on Thursday stayed the proceedings before the Delhi High Court in a suo moto case in connection with prioritising lawyers in the ongoing vaccination drive.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde issued notice on the petitions filed by vaccine manufacturers — Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute of India — seeking to transfer the case in Delhi High Court to the top court. The vaccine manufacturing firms had contended that the High Court is conducting parallel proceedings on vaccine related issues. The firms submitted that these cases should be transferred to the apex court for an authoritative judgment.
The bench also comprising Justices A.S. Bopanna and V.Ramasubramanian said: “We are of the view that suo moto writ petition pending before the Delhi High Court be transferred to this court.” The top court said the High Court should not proceed in the meanwhile.
The firms have contended that different high courts are seeking data on how many vaccines are produced and when they will give vaccines to all. The Delhi High Court had registered a suo moto case for the purpose of vaccinating all persons associated with judicial functioning and treating them as frontline workers. The High Court had sought affidavits from the vaccine manufacturing firms on their capacities.
During the hearing, the bench noted that lawyers can’t earn livelihood without coming in contact with people. “That’s why they want to be vaccinated on priority”, added the bench. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, submitted that ‘tomorrow journalists may come up with a similar demand followed by bank employees’. The bench said advocates find it very difficult not to meet people.
After a brief exchange, Mehta submitted that he will place the representation on the behalf of the legal community before the expert committee.
The top court is also hearing a PIL by Arvind Singh seeking vaccination on priority for the legal fraternity.
The Centre on Monday made it clear before the Supreme Court that it can’t prioritise vaccination on the basis of trade and profession. In an affidavit, the government said it is taking proactive measures based upon rational and justifiable policy in connection with vaccination of people, depending upon their vulnerability to disease, nature of work, age and comorbid health situation.