Journalists' can work without coming in contact of people, unlike lawyers: SC on vaccination priority

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New Delhi, Mar 18 (PTI) The Supreme Court Thursday said journalists' work can be done without coming in contact with people unlike lawyers and asked the Centre to consider the legal fraternity's request for priority in COVID-19 vaccination saying their livelihood depends on direct interaction with their clients.

The Centre opposed creating a separate class of lawyers and said that though it is not opposed to the legal fraternity members but tomorrow journalists and banking sector employees may also come forward seeking priority in vaccination.

A bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde and Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian asked the Centre to consider the request of lawyers for priority in vaccination as their livelihood depends on contact with people and their apprehension of getting the infection is genuine.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Centre said, “I need to have instructions on this. I don’t have anything against the lawyers. Even I am not vaccinated, as I don’t fall in the criteria but a vegetable vendor whose livelihood also depends on coming in contact with other peoples, why should he not be given priority in vaccination.' Mehta further told the bench, “If tomorrow journalists come forward that their livelihood also depends on coming into contact with other people and they are also a separate class and need to be vaccinated on priority. Then what should we do? We cannot create a separate class on the basis of profession?” The bench said, “We don’t know exactly how journalists go about their business but what we do know is that journalists' work can be done even without coming in contact with people unlike lawyers”.

Mehta also said that then there can be a category of banking people, who will say they need the vaccination on priority as they come in contact with people every day and the list can go on.

The bench said that it understands the apprehension expressed by some classes of people but it also appreciates the fact that India is leading in the vaccination drive.

“There are certain categories of people like lawyers and doctors who need contact for their livelihood. Will the expert committee see that these categories of people are vaccinated,” the top court said.

Mehta said the expert committee is looking at how vaccination is taking place in the country and it has to take a holistic view of the situation and he will have to seek instructions on the view of the court.

The top court was hearing a PIL seeking priority vaccination of lawyers, judges and court staff and two petitions of Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech seeking transfer of cases related to vaccines to the top court.

It posted the matter for further hearing next week. PTI MNL SJK SA