PIL in Delhi HC to include judges, judicial staff in first phase of COVID-19 vaccination
Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed in Delhi High Court on Tuesday seeking inclusion of judges, judicial staff, advocates and members of the legal fraternity in the first phase of COVID-19 vaccination.
The petition seeks directions to Centre and Delhi Government to arrange and facilitate required infrastructure within two months in all court premises for COVID-19 vaccination.
Petitioner Amrender Singh, a practising lawyer, said the rule of law depends on the functioning of courts and litigants are suffering delays in delivery of justice in absence of normal functioning of courts. The plea said several advocates amongst the legal fraternity had faced unprecedented times due to COVID-19 pandemic and were still dealing with the repercussions.
It said the government “failed to include” the legal fraternity in its first vaccination drive “without having regard to the life, health and wellbeing of judges, practising advocates and other staff of the legal fraternity”.
It added that due to pandemic, the courts have not functioned to their full capacity and restricted audience, absence of examination of witnesses, limited hearing of cases, malfunctioning of software programmes and delays in the hearing were leading to a crisis not only for the litigants and lawyers but to many who draw their sustenance from the courts such as small canteen workers, couriers, photostat shops and stationers.
Many are being driven to penury, the plea said.
It sought directions to extend the present vaccination programme to the legal fraternity to usher in normalcy in the working of the judicial system.
“This will restore the faith of the people in the judiciary. Opening court halls and hearings in physical form are of seminal importance. It would be in the larger interests not only of the litigating public but also in the history of the administration. It will assuage a system that has been fractured by the pandemic,” the plea said.
It said the Supreme Court Bar Association had on January 18 requested the Union Law Minister to extend vaccination to judges, members of the staff and lawyers who work in the judicial system as frontline workers, “but no action has been taken to date to include the legal fraternity in present vaccination drive”. (ANI)