Vaccine for lawyers? Govt says profession-based classification not possible


New Delhi, March 9 : The Health Ministry on Tuesday told the Delhi High Court that it may not be desirable to create a separate class consisting of lawyers for vaccination as it would lead to discrimination against similarly situated citizens engaged in other trade, profession or business.

Additional Secretary Manohar Agnani said this in a reply to a notice issued by the court 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.

He said that specific classification either based upon the nature of trade, profession or otherwise is neither possible nor advisable.

The Centre clarified that the present policy of restricted vaccination is based upon the vulnerability of the citizenry to the infection on account of the nature of their work, age or co-morbidity.

“It may not be desirable to create a separate class consisting of lawyers and others below 45 years of age and discriminating other similarly situated citizens engaged in other trade, profession or business,” the Additional Secretary said.

He further said that classification would necessarily lead to discrimination as there are several other trade, business or professions which directly deal with the health, help and assist a common-man to provide his day-to-day requirements and are working in a small space with a large number.

The ministry said that those lawyers and other associated staff who are either above 60 years or between the age group of 45 to 59 years and are having any of the almost exhaustive list of comorbidities would, in any case, be covered by the on-going vaccine drive.

“It may not be in the larger interest of the nation that the government starts sub-classification either based upon the profession, trade, business or any other ground at least at this juncture. In view of the aforesaid facts and circumstances, the present writ petition may kindly be disposed of.”

During the last hearing, the court has shown 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.

Clarifying on it, Additional Secretary Agnani said that export of vaccine is important to protect the high-risk population in all the countries of the world, thereby breaking the chain of transmission and minimizing chances of import of cases from foreign countries as well as neighbouring countries to India.

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