Bombay High Court on Wednesday adjourned the hearing of public interest litigation (PIL) seeking to vaccinate the judges and lawyers on a priority basis while stating that some decisions must be left to the executive wisdom.
The bench comprising Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish Kulkarni called the petition “selfish”. Coming across the information that Bharat Biotech, which has developed the COVID-19 vaccine ”Covaxin” had also moved the Supreme Court seeking directions to transfer all such pleas to the apex court, the court has adjourned the matter to March 17.
The bench has also asked the Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh to clarify the requirements to prove one’s co-morbidities and become eligible for receiving the vaccine.
Currently, medical staff who have been identified as the frontline workers by the government, citizens above 60 years, and people in the age group of 45 to 59 with co-morbidities are being vaccinated as per the Covid vaccination drive.
The petition was moved by advocates Vaishnavi Gholave and Yogesh Morbale through their counsels Vinod P Sangvikar and Yashodeep Deshmukh.
The petitioner submitted that lawyers, judges, and other legal staff worked amid the pandemic, regardless of the risk of contracting the viral infection.
While hearing the PIL, the bench noted, “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 up garbage. There are people providing food during the lockdown. Aren’t they frontline workers? Why should we think of the lawyers, judges only? Why not the staff of private organisations? What happens when someone does not survive. Survival is more important. This is very selfish of you.”
“Have you seen Titanic? Do you recollect the captain of the ship? Do you remember what he did? He has to wait till others are evacuated. He was the last one. First, everyone gets it and the judiciary gets it last. I am the captain here,” the bench said.
Chief Justice Datta adjourned the hearing of the matter to March 17 stating, “Since you have told us that there is an application for transfer pending, we won’t give our opinion at this stage. We will give our opinion only if there is something amiss in the policy.”