Judges equal to frontline officers, HC asks Delhi govt consider job, ex-gratia for next of kin


Citing empathy, the Delhi High Court on Thursday asked the Delhi government to consider ex-gratia and compassionate appointment to family members of judicial officers who succumbed to Covid-19.

The court said that currently there isn’t a category where judicial officers are recognised as frontline workers for Covid-19 vaccination. The Delhi government informed the court the category is created primarily for vaccination only and in future, it would take into account, extending it to judicial officers.

The bench noted it expects the state government to consider the matter with adequate empathy and sensitivity. The observation was made while hearing a petition by a group of lawyers seeking a coordination mechanism for judicial officers, as they were unable to get Covid-19 medical treatment and beds in hospitals.

The Delhi Judicial Services Association informed the court the Delhi government is yet to recognise judicial officers as frontline workers and asked the court that if there are any other benefits available to other frontline workers, they should also be considered for the same. The application by association was filed in the pending petition citing issues with medical facilities for judicial officers in the national capital.

Stating that issues have been adequately addressed, the court disposed of the matter seeking certain reliefs for court staff.

The court was informed that Delhi government was considering granting ex-gratia and compassionate appointment to family members of judicial officers, who succumbed to the viral infection.

The association’s counsel had submitted that the principal secretary (law) has been appointed as nodal officer for interacting with all the district judges in the connection with medical assistances to judicial officers who are Covid-19 patients.

Earlier the court had expressed concern over the condition of subordinate judiciary’s judicial officers who, due to their nature of duties, are at risk amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Citing the death of three judicial officers, the court had insisted that prima facie judicial officers should be considered equivalent to frontline workers and asked the government to consider this aspect.