At present, only those aged above 60 or those having specified comorbidities falling in the age group of 45-60 years can get vaccinated.
A bench of justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli remarked, “We are not utilising our capability fully. The two institutes (Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech) say they have more capacity. We are either donating it to foreign countries or selling it to them and not vaccinating our own people. There has to be a sense of responsibility and urgency.”
The court also sought to know from the Centre if it could increase the capacity to transport Covishield and Covaxin if the two institutes could provide more vaccines. It pointed out that the full capacity of both the suppliers was not being exploited. Both suppliers were asked to file separate affidavits on their manufacturing capacity on a per day, week and month basis and also the current usage along with unused numbers.
Appearing for Bharat Biotech, advocate Sughosh Subramanyam assured the bench that the institute was ready to supply vaccines, abide by any directions given and inform if it could scale up production.
A suo motu PIL was registered by the court to find out if the judicial system consisting of judges, lawyers, court staff, etc, could be prioritised without age limit and comorbidity since physical functioning would begin from March 15. The bench directed the Centre to “file an affidavit disclosing the capacity to transport the vaccines while maintaining the whole chain, particularly to Delhi, and also indicate the extent to which it is being used”.
Directing Delhi government to inspect medical facilities available in court complexes to examine if vaccination centres could be set up, the court posted the matter for hearing on March 10. It also asked Delhi High Court Bar Association and Bar Council of Delhi (BCD) to disclose the strength of members registered with them to get an idea of the number of people to be vaccinated in the judicial system.
Additional solicitor general Chetan Sharma, appearing on behalf of the Centre, informed HC that selection of class of people for vaccination was a policy decision taken by an expert body. But the court sought an explanation by way of an affidavit.
On Wednesday, the court had converted into a PIL a letter by BCD seeking to declare all people associated with judicial functioning, including judges, court staff and lawyers, as “frontline workers” so that they could get vaccinated on priority and without limitations of their age or physical condition.
The bench had said that the need of the hour was to vaccinate the masses on a war footing to secure the life and health of those who step out of their homes to attend to their avocations and professions.