New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Thursday showed apprehensions over non-utilization of coronavirus vaccine to its full capacity by the country, asserting that it is either being donated or sold off to foreign countries rather than being provided to Indians.
Justice Vipin Sanghi made the observations while hearing a suo motu public interest litigation concerning vaccination of judges, court staff and lawyers on priority and for them to be treated as frontline workers so that they could receive it without limitations of their age or physical condition.
In the recent phase of the vaccination drive which commenced on March 1, the government is inoculating only those who are over 60 years of age and for people aged 45 and above with specified co-morbid conditions. The priority was first given to the healthcare and frontline workers.
Justice Sanghi said, “If the capacity of the two vaccine manufacturers were being utilized to the full and then the restrictions were to be put, it would have been one thing. We should not have the situation where we are not even utilizing the full capacity.”
His remarks came after Covishield and Covaxin vaccine manufacturers Bharat Biotech and Serum Insititute of India apprised that the capacity to vaccinate the judicial staff is available.
“They have the full capacity to manufacture and supply. We are not utilizing it because of our restricted control approach. We are either donating or selling it off to foreign countries rather than giving it to our own people. It is well settled and the experts are also saying that there should be a sense of urgency in this process of vaccination,” the judge said.
He said that the present petition is to find out if the whole judicial system can be prioritized without age limit and co morbidity.
The court then issued slew of directions. Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute of India have been directed to file affidavits on — capacity to manufacture the vaccines and the unutilized capacity.
The Government of India has been asked to indicate the transport capacity of the vaccine and the extent to which it is being used. The Centre has also been asked to explain the rationale over strict class of persons that can be vaccinated.
Delhi High Court Bar Association and Bar Council of Delhi have been asked to file an affidavit disclosing the judicial strength. “It should indicate how many of them would get covered by the existing policy and how many would be left out,” said the Court.
Delhi Government has been directed to carry out inspection of medical facilities in court complexes and to report whether vaccination centers could be created there. The matter will now be heard on March 10.
This comes after the announcement that physical hearing of the matters in the court will begin on a daily basis from March 15.
On Wednesday, the court had observed, “With increased footfall, there is likelihood of the rate of infection amongst those who attend the Courts spiking, once the full-fledged physical functioning of Courts in Delhi resumes.”
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