Pursuant to a meeting with the SC Judges and certain renowned medical experts, the President of the Supreme Court Bar Association, Dushyant Dave on Monday circulated a detailed message, intimating the requisite precautionary measures that should be observed by all the court staff, lawyers, litigants, and other stakeholders at all times, to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
The message draws cue from an urgent meeting convened by the CJI SA Bobde on Sunday evening, in the presence of Justice Arun Mishra, Justice UU Lalit, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Nageshwar Rao, with Doctors from the Private sector alongside the Govt representatives.
The meeting was attended by Dr Naresh Trehan, founder of Medanta Hospital, Dr Navin Dang well known Pathologist, Dr Neeraj Jain from Gangaram, Dr Sibal, CEO of Apollo group of hospitals and Dr Raghuvanshi, CEO Fortis Hospital.
The government representatives included Dr Bhargava from ICMR (which is spearheading the battle against Virus), Dr Guleria, Director AIIMS and Dr Shyama of the SC.
Both SCBA and SCORA were also represented in the meeting by their respective Presidents, Vice Presidents and Secretaries.
In his message, Dave said that the experts ensured that the existing arrangement made by the SC to have Six Benches hearing 12 matters is the right way to handle the situation and that the same will be reviewed most likely this Wednesday.
He further summed-up the discussions and conclusions of the meeting as follows:
1. Entry of Lawyers, support staff, litigants will be restricted as already informed but it would be necessary as per Experts to get honest information/declaration from them stating,
- if they have recently traveled abroad ,
- if they have cough and cold or fever ,
- if any of their contact person have contacted Corona Virus ,
to ensure that such person is not allowed entry into SC premises;
2. Hand sanitizers will be kept at various points inside Court premises for being used and Members must use them before entering and also during their stay in Court premises. Experts said that soaps are equally good for use in the situation and felt wearing of Masks was not proved to be a fool proof protection and need not be insisted upon;
3. Inside Courts as also in premises, all must maintain a distance of five to six feet from each other and must avoid shaking hands or giving hugs while greeting each, to prevent any physical contact;
4. Those suffering from normal ailments like Diabetes, Lung Infections, other diseases and under medication for the same must not come to Court in their own interest as they are vulnerable;
5. All entrants must make honest Declarations as to information required and it was also suggested that bar may have some volunteers to ensure that discipline is followed, specially inside the Courtrooms. In this regard, interested persons may contact Ashok Arora, Secretary of SCBA.
Pertinently, India has so far remained fairly insulated from the effects of COVID-19 and through his message Dave has requested all the members of the Association to follow the abovementioned suggestions to ensure that the situation does not worsen, and so that the Supreme Court is not closed due to pandemic apprehensions.
As a precautionary measure, most High Courts and the Supreme Court have restricted their functioning to hear urgent matters only. Detailed instructions have also been issued to restrict entry of only those persons in courts who have some urgent business, that too after compulsory thermal screening.
The courts have also decided to favourably consider all requests for adjournments and to not pass any adverse orders on non-appearance of any Advocate/ litigant.