The Central government today informed the Supreme Court that prioritising Covid-19 vaccination based on professions will be discriminatory and not in national interest. The Centre was responding to a notice based on a public interest litigation (PIL) that wanted judges, lawyers, and other members of legal fraternity to be given priority in the inoculation drive.
"Covid-19 vaccination drive cannot be carried out based on a separate class for lawyers. It is not in the national interest to prioritise vaccination based on profession. That would amount to discrimination," the Centre informed the court though its affidavit. The PIL had wanted judges, judicial employees, lawyers, and members of legal fraternity to be given the vaccination on a priority.
India launched a mammoth vaccination drive in January, with the first phase focused on around 30 million healthcare and designated frontline workers, such as sanitation and security workers. The second phase, which took off this month, targets those above the age of 50 or high-risk individuals with pre-existing medical conditions.
A PIL filed by one Arvind Singh last month submitted that "the police, security forces, revenue officials - all these people have been given priority but all these people, whatever they do, culminates into the judicial system. Lawyers, judicial staff, judges are not included in the priority list for the vaccine".
The Centre informed the court today that as on March 5, up to 5.13 crore doses of vaccination had been provided to states and Union Territories. It also told the court, "Vaccination policy is the domain of the executive. In the interest of the nation, court may not interfere. In view of the limited manufacturing of vaccines, there is a need for prioritisation of beneficiaries and priority given as per WHO guidelines."