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An urgent meeting was called by the Chief Justice of India today evening. The meeting was chaired by the Chief Justice of India SA Bobde along with Justices Arun Mishra, UU Lalit, DY Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao.
The Chief Justice today opined that there cannot be a complete shutdown of the Courts in view of the recent Coronavirus outbreak, particularly since virtual courts were on the verge of commencement.
During the meeting, it was decided that members of the bar have to be prepared to accept, encourage and promote e-filing and video conferencing, which is to commence shortly.
Justice DY Chandrachud who is the Chairman of the e-committee has further assured that ‘people to people’ contact will be reduced by introducing court proceedings via video conference, separate rooms for the counsel for each party will be made available.
It was added that a lawyer has to only download a simple application and activate court proceedings via video conference.
Smart televisions are to be installed in the press lounge for the convenience of the journalists and e-filings can be done at any time of the day (24/7). The court proceedings and filing procedures will soon go digital and paperless, it was stated.
In the course of the meeting, it was decided that any demand of the Bar and Bench would be subordinated to the medical advice drawn in the meeting.
Common medical advice has been issued by Medical Experts namely, Dr Randeep Guleria from AIIMS, Dr Balram Bhargava from ICMR along with other experts from institutions like Fortis, Apollo and Medanta, who were present in the meeting.
The experts have advised that a declaration ought to obtained by all the persons entering the Court premises stating information like any recent travel made overseas especially to any of the notified countries, any signs of cough or cold in the last one or two days, any form of close contact with an infected person, etc.
It has been further advised that if a person has in fact traveled overseas to any of the notified areas, they to enter the Court premises.
Apart from this, the following advisories have been issued:
People with symptoms are to be asked to exercise self-restraint and not enter the Court;
Create awareness of respiratory etiquette vide posters in the premises and social media;
Installation of thermal scan at the entry level;
Ensuring availability of sanitizer in all Court Rooms, Corridors, toilets etc.;
Maintaining minimum distance between individuals and guarding against overcrowding ;
Installation of hand driers and refraining from using paper napkins;
Educating people about the eight proper steps of hand wash.
The Judges have also assured that no adverse orders will be passed and adjournments will be granted leniently.
The Chief Justice has further asked the SCBA and SCAORA to ensure that the aforementioned steps are communicated to the members of the bar. Further it has been requested that they deploy volunteers in Court halls to encourage the members to keep distance and leave the premises as soon as their matter concludes.
The next meeting has been scheduled for Wednesday, March 18.