Bombay High Court on Wednesday, 10 March, heard a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking to provide the legal fraternity frontline workers access to COVID-19 vaccination on a priority basis. In response, Chief Justice Dipankar Datta called the plea ‘selfish’, saying that some decisions should be left to the executive.
The plea was filed by two Mumbai-based advocates Vaishnavi Gholave and Yogesh Morbale, who argued that the HC worked through the health crisis and all lawyers, judges, and staff continued to work despite the risk of contracting the virus.
“Why should we think of the lawyers, judges only? Why not the staff of private organisations? You are asking us to hold that judges should be vaccinated first because we are frontline workers? Why not ask for people who are picking up garbage outside your work?”Chief Justice Dipankar Datta
“This is very selfish of you,” the CJ added.
The High Court also drew comparisons between the Titanic and the judiciary, saying that in times of crisis, the captain is the last one to get saved.
“Have you seen Titanic? Do you remember the captain of the ship? You remember what he did. He was the last one. I am the captain here. First everyone else gets, then the judiciary gets,” he said, Bar and Bench quoted.
The Bombay HC also appreciated the efforts of the Centre, urging the petitioners to “have faith in the executive”, Bar and Bench reported.
The HC also argued that a policy decision cannot be interfered with by the court unless there is arbitrariness, PTI reported.
Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh representing the Union government noted that similar cases are pending in other High Courts as well, and vaccine manufacturer Bharat Biotech has filed an application before the Supreme Court to transfer all such matters to the apex court.
The Bombay High Court said that it will not give any opinion on the issue at present, Bar and Bench reported, and said that the case will be heard next on 17 March.
The court also opined that when members of the judiciary get in line to be vaccinated, the ASG and other lawyers must suggest that lawyers working under the legal services authority are considered first, Bar and Bench reported.
(With inputs from Bar and Bench and PTI)