Delhi HC takes suo motu cognizance of Covid-19 vaccination for judges, judicial staff

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday took suo motu cognizance over issue of the vaccination of judges and the judicial staff.

While initiating a Public Interest Litigation on its own motion, a division bench of the high court presided over by Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli said, “…prima facie, it appears to us that there is weight in the claim made by the Bar Council of Delhi for declaring all persons associated with the judicial functioning, which includes the Judges, the Court Staff and the lawyers as Frontline workers, so that they could receive vaccination on priority, and without limitations of their age or physical condition.”

The court also issued notice to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute of India (SII) and slated the matter for further hearing on Thursday. 

The suo motu cognizance was taken in view of a letter written by the Chairman, Bar Council of Delhi, urging that appropriate directions be issued to the concerned authorities to make available necessary infrastructure in Court premises for vaccination of the members of the judiciary by treating them as frontline workers.

In its order, the court also noted that the need of the hour is to vaccinate the masses, in view of the raging pandemic, on a war footing so as to secure the life and health of all those who step out of their homes to attend to their avocations and professions.

“Courts, by their very nature, are places which have very high density congregations of people on a daily basis. Hundreds and thousands of cases are listed. in any given Court complex every day. Apart. from judges, the Court staff – which is substantial, and Advocates – who have to. attend to their respective cases, and a large number of litigants visit Courts in which their cases are listed, on a daily basis,” the court said. 

It further observed that since the cases listed on any given day are mostly different from those listed on the previous day, or the next day, the litigants visiting the Courts constitute a different group from day to day to a great extent. The aforesaid peculiarity exposes the Judges, the Court staff, and the lawyers functioning in the Court system to the risk of contracting the disease from not only each other, but also from the large number of litigants who visit the Courts every day to attend to their cases. 

“In fact, the number of persons visiting a Court complex – such as the Tiz Hazari Courts on any given day, may well be in excess of the number of persons visiting and thronging the hospital for treatment of patients,” the court said. 
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