The Delhi High Court has suo motu filed public interest litigation seeking vaccination of judges, lawyers and court staff on priority.

The high court noted 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 judges, court staff and the lawyers as frontline workers so that they could receive vaccination on priority, and without limitations of their age or physical condition.

The Bar Council of Delhi had written to the Delhi High Court Chief Justice on March 1 seeking setting up necessary infrastructure in court premises for the vaccination of judicial staff. 

The Bar Council of Delhi had also sought that judicial staff be also treated as frontline workers. 

Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli also stated that it would be necessary to ascertain the availability of the two vaccines in use in India for the same.

Issuing notices to the central and Delhi governments along with the vaccine makers Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech, the Court said that 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. 

Here are some excerpts from the petition: 

'Courts, by their very nature, are places which have very high-density congregations of people on a daily basis.' 

'Since the cases listed on any given day are mostly different from those listed on the previous day, or the next day, the litigants visiting the Courts constitute a different group from day to day to a great extent. The aforesaid peculiarity exposes the Judges, the Court staff, and the lawyers functioning in the Court system to the risk of contracting the disease from not only each other but also from the large number of litigants who visit the courts every day to attend to their cases.'

'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 air-conditioned. 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.'

The matter would be heard again today.