In the wake of COVID-19 outbreak, the Supreme Court on Friday issued a notification directing that the functioning of the Court will be restricted to urgent matters with such number of Benches as may be found appropriate.
"On reviewing the advisory issued by the Government of India and in view of the opinion of public health experts including medical professionals and also considering the safety and welfare of all the visitors, litigants, lawyers, court staff, security, maintenance and support staff, student interns and media professionals, the Competent Authority has been pleased to direct that the functioning of the Courts shall be restricted to urgent matters with such number of Benches as may be found appropriate"
It is also notified that that no persons except the lawyers who are going to act in the matter, i.e. either for argument or for making oral submissions or to assist along with one litigant only, shall be permitted in the court room.
Mentioning of matters will be made before the Mentioning Officer only. Considering the importance of the safety measures for health, all concerned are requested to cooperate with the instructions of the staff on duty, in the interest of all.
Chief Justice of India, SA Bobde had called an urgent meeting at his residence on Thursday amidst the Corona Virus outbreak in India.
Justice Arun Mishra, Justice UU Lalit, Attorney General KK Venugopal, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, officials from the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Law along with office bearers of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) and Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association (SCAORA) attended the meeting.
Taking note of the severity of the situation as well as increasing cases reported across the country, dangers and implications of allowing a large number of lawyers and litigants to congregate in court premises were discussed.
Currently, the Supreme Court is on a break for Holi and is scheduled to reopen on Monday, March 16.
The seriousness of the outbreak led to the Home Ministry invoking the Disaster Management Act 2005 on March 11, while the Delhi government today directed that Cinema halls and schools where examinations have been completed will remain closed till March 31 as a precautionary measure. So far, there are 81 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in India.
The first case of death in India due to this pandemic was reported in Karnataka on Thursday.