With everything else going online during the coronavirus or Covid-19 outbreak, why not the Indian judicial system? The Supreme Court of India announced a series of new moves as social distancing measures within the judiciary.
Now, lawyers will be allowed to argue their cases through video conferences, file cases online 24×7 and also watch proceedings on smart TVs in the press rooms of the court complex. Basically, the Supreme court has discouraged all non-essential travel to the premise due to the coronavirus pandemic hitting India hard in the past two weeks. Meanwhile, casual visitors will not be allowed to enter the apex court premise for tours or to visit the museum.
Coronavirus Impact On India’s Supreme Court
All stakeholders — who have a travel history to the affected country, or with any symptoms of fever, sore throat, cough, runny nose or breathing difficulty — have been advised to not the enter the Supreme Court premises. Besides this, the SC is also planning to introduce a self-declaration of recent travels and health status for anyone entering the court complex.
- All cafeterias, including departmental canteens, will remain closed until further notice.
- The apex court has called off the guided tour of the Supreme Court and also closed the in-house museum for the visitors.
- All licensed vendors are asked to stock alcohol-based sanitisers with dispensers for customers’ use.
- All the common areas in the apex court are being sanitised after 6:00 PM every day. Therefore, all stakeholders are asked to exit the premises by 5:30 PM.
- All entrants are required to go through a thermal-screening. Any person with high body temperature will be denied entry.
The apex court will also introduce thermal sensors for all visitors, deploy volunteers, ensure proper sanitisation and also enforce social distancing. The decision was discussed in a meeting held between Chief Justice of India SA Bobde and other senior judges — Justices Arun Mishra, U U Lalit, D Y Chandrachud and L Nageshwara Rao.
The development comes after five Supreme Court judges were diagnosed with swine flu (H5N1) in February 2020. Although Justice Chandrachud said that six judges tested positive, the Indian government confirmed that it was five cases. Justice Chandrachud then held a discussion with the chief justice of India on precautionary measures the Supreme Court should take.