The Delhi High Court on Tuesday transferred to another bench a plea seeking to postpone Delhi Higher Judicial Service Main Examination-2019, scheduled to be held on March 13-14, till the COVID-19 vaccination drive for lawyers is complete.

Justices Manmohan and Asha Menon said let the plea be listed before a bench headed by the chief justice as it has the roster of public interest litigation (PIL).

“Senior advocate P P Malhotra states that though the petitioner has filed the petition in his individual name, yet it is in the nature of PIL. According to the roster, all the PILs are to be listed before the bench headed by the chief justice. Let it be listed before Division Bench-I on March 12,” the court said.

The court was hearing a petition filed by one of the candidates who is going to appear for the examination.

In the plea, the petitioner said he is suffering from severe medical conditions, leaving him at a risk of serious and life threatening complications if he contracts coronavirus.

Senior advocate Malhotra, representing the petitioner, said all the candidates are in the age group of 32 to 47 years and mostly suffering from blood pressure and diabetes problems, and let the lawyers get vaccinated then the exam can be held after a month.

“It is a serious issue. Everyone’s safety is important, he said.

On being asked by the court if the petition was in nature of PIL, the counsel said it can be treated as a PIL as it was affecting everyone.

The petition, filed through advocates Aditya Kapoor, Kushal Kumar, Harsh Ahuja and Akash Deep Gupta, sought quashing of February 18 notification issued by the Delhi High Court notifying the schedule of the examinations on March 13 and 14.

The petitioner said he is a meritorious and middle-aged person who is suffering from severe health problems of cancer and had undergone radiation therapy with administration of chemotherapy doses and is currently having an extremely weak immunity.

He said he is at a higher risk of severe complications from contracting coronavirus.

The plea claimed that the notice is violative of the fundamental rights by forcing the candidates, like the petitioner, to risk their health and safety in the current situation of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It said many states, including Delhi, are witnessing a rise in COVID-19 cases and there are more than 1,701 active cases in the national capital as on March 4, 2021, and around 240 new cases per day are getting detected on a daily basis.

“In view of the resurgence of COVID-19 cases in many states, including Delhi, the conduct of main exams in the month of March, 2021 would unjustly expose the candidates, including the petitioner to the high risks of contracting coronavirus.

“It is also submitted that many candidates, including the petitioner for the exam, are of matured age and most of them also have compromised immunity due to various ailments, the petition submitted.

It also referred to recent suo moto cognisance taken by the high court on the demand for vaccinating judges, court staff and lawyers on priority basis and said it might be possible that the issue of vaccination is decided by the central government soon and it would allow lawyers to get vaccinated and thereby diminishing the risk of contracting the virus.

“The absence of any urgency to conduct the main examinations and presence of the risks involved in conducting the examinations thus call for the postponement of the main examinations,” the petition said.

The result of the preliminary examinations was declared on February 13 last year, wherein 280 candidates were shortlisted to appear for the Delhi Higher Judicial Service Main Examination (Written)-2019.

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