The Chief Justice of India S A Bobde has said that while there cannot be a complete shutdown of the courts, there exists of the possibility of a limited shutdown, specially as the virtual courts are coming up. He also assured that that adjournments will be granted leniently and that no adverse orders will be given.
CJI Bobde mentioned these at an urgent meeting that he convened to take stock of the situation in the wake of the Coronavirus which has assuming alarmning proportions in the country. Chaired by the CJI, the was attended by Justices Arun Mishra, UU Lalit, DY Chandrachud and L Nageshwara Rao and also . prominent doctors like Dr. Randeep Guleria of the AIIMS, Dr. Balram Bhargava from Indian Council for Medical Research and other senior doctors from hospitals like Fortis, Apollo and Medanta. The President and Vice President of SCBA and SCAORA were also present in the meeting.
Some of the impotant points made by the doctors present include:
- A declaration ought to obtained by all the persons seeking entry to the Courts stating:
- a)Whether he/she has travelled overseas especially to any of the notified countries? (and in case of the person having visited any of the notified countries he/she should not be allowed any access to the Court).
- b)Whether the person has any cough or cold for last one or two days?
- c)Whether the person has anybody in his close contact of any infected person?
The aforesaid declaration forms should be filled by all entrants in the entry level.
- To request and encourage people with symptoms to self restrain and not attend Court.
- To publish awareness of respiratory etiquette vide posters in the premises of the Hon’ble Court and also publicize the same vide social media.
- To install/deploy thermal scan at the entry level. Further that, masks may not be effective as proper masks are used in the right and proper manner by medical staff dealing with patients.
- To ensure availability of sanitizer in all Court Rooms, Corridors, toilets etc.
- To appreciate and maintain minimum distance between individuals. Overcrowding to be restrained
- To promote hand wash with liquid soap as not many people have proper knowledge of the right manner to wash hands with sanitizer.
- To install hand driers and stop using of paper napkins/tissues in toilets.
- To educate and promote the eight proper steps of hand wash.
On his part, the CJI suggested both SCBA and SCAORA to ensure that :
- Proper communications are to be made with the members of the bar with regard to the awareness of self discipline and also motivate the members (in case of symptoms) to disclose and self restrain from attending courts
- To deploy volunteers in Court halls and encourage the members to keep distance and request the lawyers to leave the premises as soon as their matter concludes
- Members of the bar to be prepared to accept, encourage and promote e filing and video conference of court halls, which will commence shortly.
The Chairman of e-committee Justice DY Chandrachud also assured that interpersonal contact will be reduced with the help of introduction of video conferences, separate rooms for counsels of each parties will be made available. He also pointed out that the lawyers will only have to fill out a simple application for proceeding via video conferencing to be activated, he also said that smart televisions will be placed in press lounge for convenience of journalists. One major thing that was pointed out by Justice Chandrachud was that e filings can be made at any time of the day as it will be open 24/7.
The CJI has convened another meeting on Wednesday where they will once again take stock of the situation