- Apprentice Lawyer
The Tamil Nadu Advocates' Association (TNAA) has addressed a representation to government authorities as well as the Supreme Court and Madras High Court Chief Justices urging that lawyers and judges must be included in the priority list of persons eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccinations in the first stage/ first phase.
A letter signed off by TNAA Chairman S Prabakaran noted that the government had tentatively prepared a list of priority segments in India who would get vaccinated in the first phase of the COVID-19 vaccinations that is likely to start in the next few weeks.
This list, TNAA said, included health workers, defence, police personnel, aged persons and those with co-morbidities but did not include lawyers and judges.
".. It was a matter of shock and surprise and concern that the list of priority segment does not show inclusion of members of the legal fraternity. It is a case of glaring omission of a deliberate discrimination committed by the officials concerned as the essentiality of a robust judicial machinery cannot be either undermined or underrated,” the representation stated.
Given the vital significance of courts and the legal fraternity for the betterment of the society at large, the non-inclusion of lawyers in the priority list for the first phases of the COVID-19 inoculation is unfair and illegal, to say the least, and shows misplaced priorities of bureaucrats, the TNAA said.
While Court has adapted to conduct virtual hearings and allow online filings amid the COVID-19 pandemic, these are only stop gap arrangements, it asserted. Several lakhs of cases are gathering dust, the letter noted. As such, the TNAA put forth the following, and allied, demands:
The legal fraternity must be declared essential service personnel and included in the list of priority groups eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations int he first phase/stage;
The Bar Council authorities must be contacted to compile the list of practising lawyers and to contact them;
Vaccination camps should be conducted in coordination with the Bar Council and the Central and State governments;
Necessary doses of the vaccination should be made available to Bar Council so that the members of the legal fraternity can be reached out without fail.
The letter added a word of caution that the judicial alternatives may be explored by the TNAA if the government fails to include the legal fraternity for coverage by the initial COVID-19 vaccine phases.
"The TNAA hereby puts the central and state governments on notice that if lawyers and judicial officers are not declared as priority professionals eligible for inoculation in the first phase, the TNAA will approach the competent judicial forums and obtain necessary judicial orders and directives. TNAA shall not be held liable for any cost and delay cause by such a lawful exercise, as it is the failure of the government and its bureaucrats which would leave the TNAA without any other option but to approach the judicial forums," read the letter.