Judges Will Now Get Priority Vaccination: Delhi Govt to HC

All the benefits declared by Delhi government for frontline workers will now also be extended to judicial officers.

2 min read
Various high courts across the country took up the issue of COVID-19 management in their respective states, forcing governments to answer tough questions and take swift action.

On Thursday, 27 May, the Delhi government submitted before the Delhi High Court that it has declared judicial officers as frontline workers for the purpose of priority vaccination.

The government further informed the court that as and when any other benefits are extended to frontline workers, judicial officers shall be considered for the same.

The order has come in a petition moved by the Delhi Judicial Officers Association raising concerns with respect to the health facilities at their disposal. Out of many demands, the DJOA had pleaded before the court to direct the Delhi government to declare judicial officers as frontline workers.

The development came after the court, last week, lamented the death of three judicial officers due to COVID, and asked the state government to consider whether judicial officers presiding over lower courts can be declared as frontline workers.

What About Ex-Gratia Compensation?

On the issue of ex-gratia compensation, Senior Advocate Dayan Krishnan, who appeared for the association, said that the same is under consideration by the Delhi government.

“I‘m sure government will look at this positively. Government is looking into it.”
Dayan Krishnan

Krishnan further informed the court that pursuant to the court's order, the Principal Secretary (law), Delhi government had been appointed as central nodal officer to address the medical needs of judicial officers suffering from COVID-19.

He also stated that the committee appointed by the Chief Justice of the High Court, headed by Justice Mukta Gupta and comprising Justices Navin Chawla and Prathiba M Singh had issued directions in relation to expenditure incurred on treatment of judicial officers.

“We trust the Committee. It is taking pro active steps.”
Dayan Krishnan 

The court noted that the decisions taken by this committee pertained to court staff of the High Court and district courts as well.

Reimbursement of Expenditure Incurred by Judicial Officers

Advocate Tanvir Ahmed Mir, who had also preferred a petition similar to that of the association, urged the court to consider passing directions for reimbursement of expenditure incurred by judicial officers in non-empallened hospitals.

The court, however, refused to pass any "blanket order" on reimbursement at this stage and clarified that such an exercise had to be done on a case-to-case basis.

The court observed that there were case laws on reimbursement of medical expenses for government officers in case of non-empanelled hospitals.

“We expect the state will act reasonably...some dispute may be there. Those are specific instances that have to be dealt with... We’ve told you there can’t be a blanket order...why should we assume it won’t be would be premature for us to pass an order directing the government to clear all claims. Each claim has to be examined.” 
Delhi High Court

Senior Advocate Rahul Mehra, appearing for the Delhi government, informed that there was a system in place to deal with the issue of reimbursement and claims of judicial officers also would be decided accordingly.

(With inputs from Bar & Bench)

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