Updated: March 13, 2021 6:00:13 pm
The Bombay High Court on Wednesday said the public interest litigation (PIL) seeking priority Covid-19 vaccination for the judiciary ahead of others was “selfish” as the number of vaccines available per day is limited at present.
Chief Justice Dipankar Datta observed that municipal employees, who go from door-to-door providing essential services, are more deserving in terms of getting vaccinated on a priority basis. Datta was of the opinion that the judiciary should be the last to get the jabs.
A division bench of Chief Justice Datta and Justice Girish S Kulkarni was hearing the PIL moved by lawyer Vaishnavi Gholave and another through advocates Vinod Sangvikar and Yashodeep Deshmukh.
The plea said while lawyers’ work was added in the list of essential services, the legal fraternity should be allowed to take part in the vaccination process to avoid the risk of Covid-19 in courts where a large number of people assemble.
“There are certain cases (Covid-19 infection) in the judiciary as well. But we cannot push our boundaries. You are asking judges to be vaccinated first because they are Covid-19 warriors? Why not the municipal employees who come every day to your house to pick the garbage? There are people providing food during lockdown. Aren’t they frontline workers? This is very selfish of you (petitioners)” the Chief Justice added.
The court also said that the availability of vaccine is insufficient at present. “Nearly 75,000 per day is the rate of vaccination. We have some international obligations too. This is why we are donating (vaccines). It is a policy decision. The policy decision cannot be interfered with by default,” the bench said.
Advocate Deshmukh said lawyers have been working throughout the lockdown. To which Chief Justice Datta said, “There is a risk (in not vaccinating lawyers and judges), no doubt. But we have to be cautious and take precautions. Please have faith in the executive. Follow the Covid-19 protocols. Nothing will happen. You must thank them (executive). They have done such a wonderful job.”
“Have you seen ‘Titanic’? Do you remember what the captain of the ship did? He has to wait till others are evacuated. He was the last one. First everyone gets it and the judiciary gets at last. I am the captain here,” the Chief Justice added.
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