New Delhi: In the backdrop of the outbreak of coronavirus, the Supreme Court on Monday will hold a full court to consider further steps on the functioning of the court.
A full court involves all judges of the apex court meeting will be held at the Supreme Court at 12.30 p.m. on March 23 to discuss further steps to be taken to prevent the spread of coronavirus and to consider the suggestions of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) and Supreme Court Advocate-on-Record Association (SCAORA) to declare vacation from two to four weeks.
Meanwhile, the apex court administration will also begin testing video conferencing, where lawyers can argue before a bench from a separate room.
On March 21, in the backdrop of coronavirus outbreak, the SCBA had urged the Chief Justice S.A. Bobde to consider declaring four weeks’ vacation beginning March 23.
In a statement SCBA Secretary Ashok Arora said the lawyers’ body request the Chief Justice to adjust the lost days in the upcoming summer vacation.
“The EC (Executive Committee) of the SCBA is elected to look after the welfare and well-being of the members of the SCBA and must take decisions accordingly irrespective of the reservations that some members may have”, said the statement. Arora said, “The EC resolves to inform the court of its readiness to help the institution at any point of time”.
Similarly, to curtail the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic, SCAORA also urged the Chief Justice to close the Supreme Court for a period of at least two weeks beginning from March 23. However, if this request is not accepted, then the SCAORA has proposed various measures to prevent overcrowding in the court complex.
“Filing of matters be completely stopped except urgent matters pertaining to death warrant, bail/custody and habeas corpus petitions…In lieu of the loss of court hours, summer vacation may be curtailed in the month of May and if necessary the courts may function on Saturday accordingly”, said Joseph Aristotle, Secretary SCAORA.
On March 13, the Supreme Court in a notification said it will have limited functioning restricted to urgent matters. “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”, said the notification issued by the apex court Secretary General Sanjeev S Kalgaonkar.
The apex court authorities took into account the office memorandum issued on march 5 by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, as advisory cautioning against mass gathering and also took cognizance of the World Health Organisation (WHO), which declared Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) as global pandemic and advised against mass congregation.