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HC asks Delhi govt to consider aid for judicial officers who died of Covid-19

New Delhi: The Delhi high court on Thursday asked the city government to “empathetically and sensitively” consider the issue of granting ex-gratia and compassionate appointment to family members of judicial officers who died of Covid-19
PUBLISHED ON MAY 27, 2021 11:52 PM IST

New Delhi: The Delhi high court on Thursday asked the city government to “empathetically and sensitively” consider the issue of granting ex-gratia and compassionate appointment to family members of judicial officers who died of Covid-19.

Senior advocate Dayan Krishnan, appearing for the Delhi Judicial Services Association, told a bench of justices Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh that judicial officers have been recognised as frontline workers for the purpose of Covid vaccination directly procured by the state governments.

On May 25, the Delhi government, in an order said that judicial officers, media persons and special public prosecutors will be treated as frontline workers for vaccination out of the doses procured by the state government (Delhi government).

The order was brought out in accordance with a central government communication of May 15 on vaccination which had said that states may make provisions for other categories beyond the categories communicated by the ministry of health and family welfare from the vaccines directly procured by state governments.

“A suitable provision is also being made in Co-WIN for on-site registration and vaccination of such facilitated cohorts of beneficiaries that the states may identify to be benefitted exclusively out of the vaccine doses directly procured by the States,” the communication had said.

On Thursday, additional standing counsel Satyakam, appearing for the Delhi government, told the court that category is created primarily for the purpose of vaccination only and in future, if there are other aspects covered, it shall be extended to judicial officers also.

The court was also informed that the government was looking into the aspect of granting ex-gratia and compassionate appointments to family members of judicial officers, who died of Covid-19.

“We hope and expect the Delhi government to approach the matter with adequate empathy and sensitivity considering the fact that judicial officers have been recognised frontline workers by the Delhi government itself,” the court said while noting the submissions.

The court was hearing a petition by a group of lawyers, including Shobha Gupta and Rajesh Sachdeva, seeking a coordination mechanism for judicial officers who were unable to get Covid-19 medical treatment and beds in hospitals. The association’s application was filed in the pending petition raising the issues of medical facilities for judicial officers here.

The court disposed of the petition and the application along with another plea seeking certain reliefs for court staff, noting that the issues raised are adequately addressed.

Senior advocate Dayan Krishnan, representing the association, said after the court’s earlier order, the Delhi government has addressed the issues in a positive manner and the principal secretary (law) has been appointed as nodal officer for interacting with all the district judges in the matter of providing medical assistance to judicial officers who are Covid-19 patients.

He submitted that a committee appointed by the Delhi high court chief justice, headed by justice Mukta Gupta and which also comprises justices Navin Chawla and Prathiba M Singh has issued directions in relation to expenditure incurred on treatment of judicial officers and the issue has been addressed.

Regarding another lawyer’s prayer that judicial officers and staff who go for treatment at non empanelled hospitals be reimbursed with the expenditure, the court said it would be premature to pass an order directing the government to clear all the claims.

The court said there are sufficient precedents available dealing with the situation where government employees, in case of emergency, take treatment in non empanelled hospitals.

“In our view, it would not be justified to pass blanket orders directing the government to pass all such claims as it needs to be examined in each case,” it said.

The court had earlier expressed concerns over the condition of subordinate judiciary’s judicial officers who are at risk of contracting Covid-19 owing to the nature of duties and observed that politicians and bureaucrats find it very difficult to accept their failure and inability as it was not in their veins.

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