By LE Desk

New Delhi, March 3: The Delhi High Court has observed that judicial staff including judges, court staff and lawyers ‘prima facie’ could be considered ‘frontline workers’ who could be given priority access to the Covid Vaccine.

Taking note of a letter sent by the Bar Council of Delhi (BCD), a two-judge bench of the High court on Wednesday issued notice to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Delhi Government, Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bharat Biotech in a suo motu case. The Court has sought their response on this issue and asked the two vaccine manufacturers to give details regarding the availability of the Covishield and Covaxin vaccines, India Today reported.

“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, court staff and lawyers as frontline workers, so that they could receive vaccination on priority, and without limitations of their age or physical condition,” observed the bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli.

The High court and trial courts in the Capital are set to resume physical functioning from March 15. The bench in its order passed on Wednesday noted that this could pose a risk of infection.

“There is a clear pattern emerging that the number of Covid-19 positive cases increases with greater intermingling and congregation of people. Court premises of the Delhi High Court and some of the District Courts, and all the courtrooms are airconditioned. With increased footfall, there is a likelihood of the rate of infection amongst those who attend the Courts spiking, once the full-fledged physical functioning of Courts in Delhi resumes,” observed the bench.

Bar Council president Advocate Ramesh Gupta had written to the High court chief justice on March 1, and had pointed out that the reopening of courts could pose a risk, and that the judiciary was an “essential service”. The Bar Council of Delhi had also asked for directions to be issued to the “concerned administrative/ medical authorities to make available necessary infrastructure in Court premises, particularly in medical dispensaries.”

The matter will be taken up on an urgent basis on Thursday before the bench headed by Chief justice DN Patel.

“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,” the bench has observed, adding that ‘Courts by their very nature, are places which have very high-density congregations of people on a daily basis’.

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