The government was responding to a PIL filed in the Supreme Court seeking COVID-19 vaccine priority for the legal fraternity.

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news Law Monday, March 15, 2021 - 18:06

Following a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) submitted to the Supreme Court asking that the legal fraternity be given priority to receive the vaccine against COVID-19, the Union government on Monday told the court that providing the vaccine based on one’s profession is discriminatory and goes against “national interest”. The PIL seeking such a consideration was filed by one Arvind Singh in February 2021.

In an affidavit to the Supreme Court, the Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Manohar Agnani told the court that it would “not be desirable to create a separate class consisting of lawyers and judges as it could be discriminatory towards persons engaged in other trade or profession.”

The PIL filed by Arvind Singh stated that “the police, security forces, revenue officials - all these people have been given priority but all these people, whatever they do, culminate into the judicial system. Lawyers, judicial staff, judges are not included in the priority list for the vaccine.”

The Union government had informed the Supreme Court that as of March 5, up to 5 crore doses of the COVID-19 vaccine had been supplied to all states and Union Territories. It also added that the executive bodies are in charge of the supply of vaccines and that, “in the interest of the nation, the court may not interfere.” Due to the limited manufacturing of the vaccines, the Union government added that the beneficiaries of the vaccine must be prioritised according to the guidelines provided by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The first phase of the COVID-19 vaccination drive, which began in January 2021, aimed to vaccinate frontline workers such as sanitation, security and healthcare workers. Under the second phase, which commenced in March, people above the age of 60 and those above 45 years with comorbidities are eligible for the vaccine.