Updated: March 23, 2020 12:50:10 pm
To ensure social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown across multiple parts of India including Delhi, the Supreme Court has announced the closure of all the lawyers’ chambers, and said that only important matters would be taken up via videoconferencing.
Chief Justice of India SA Bobde ordered the sealing of lawyers’ chambers by tomorrow 5 pm. “There will be no gathering of lawyers on top court premises till further orders,” the apex court said, adding that all proximity cards issued to lawyers will be temporarily cancelled. The bench, also comprising justices L N Rao and Surya Kant, said only Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) president Dushyant Dave could authorise lawyers to enter the top court premises for urgent reasons.
The chief justice said he would take a call on Monday itself on a possible shut down or to advance the summer vacations, as demanded by the lawyers’ organisations.
In a circular issued late Sunday evening, the top court cancelled the scheduled hearing in courts 2, 8 and 14 and said that from Wednesday only one bench of two judges will be hearing only urgent matters through video conference. Though it was notified earlier that four courts would function on Monday, a subsequent notification clarified that only court number 1 where the CJI sits will hold hearing on Monday.
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Amid the coronavirus scare, the Supreme Court and different high courts in India had started taking various steps to prevent the spread of the infection. While some courts limited the number of litigations to be taken up, medical and thermal-screening equipment were also installed at the court premises. While Kerala High Court has declared a holiday for the judges, lawyers and other staff till April 8, high courts in Mumbai and Delhi are hearing only urgent matters.
A lockdown has been imposed in 75 districts across India as coronavirus positive cases mounted to 415 and seven deaths were recorded.
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