Corona virus: SC, Delhi HC restrict hearings to urgent cases only.

Supreme Court judges have decided that they will hear only urgent matters as of now, to prevent overcrowding of courts and thereby prevent potential danger of spread of Corona virus. Supreme Court’s Secretary-general Sanjeev S Kalgaonkar on Friday 13th March, also said that hearings in the court will be restricted to important matters before such number of benches as deemed appropriate.

“It is hereby notified that no persons except lawyers who are going to act in the matter i.e. either for arguments or for making oral submissions or to assist along with one litigant only, shall be permitted in the court-room,” the notification said.

On the surface it appears to be a very pragmatic decision by judges seeing the fear of spread of Corona virus. But, is it so? Let’s examine it a bit.

Entry to Supreme Court premises and rooms is always and already restricted. Only lawyers and two of their clients can enter. As the cases are taken up one by one, the display boards outside courtrooms flash the case number being taken up. So, all lawyers need not be present inside the court room. This is the normal practice. They enter only when their case comes up. So, there is never crowding inside the courtrooms. At the entry to court premises, simple screening measure like thermal sensing of body temperature with a handheld device can be done, as is being already done on airports, hotels, government offices, all over the world. Why it can’t be done in Courts? With lacs of pending litigation and cases dragging on year after year, I don’t see any rationale for Supreme Court and High Court judges to stop seeing general litigation cases. As such courts have possibly more holidays than children in schools. Judges are going to resume work from Monday after a week’s Holi holidays!

Judges have the authority to restrict the number of people entering court premises and courtrooms. And, they always enforce these restrictions.

Corona virus threat is going to be here for a long time. It is not going to go away anytime soon. Will our Courts stop functioning now? Then what about crowding in hospitals?

Following Supreme Court logic, hospitals are the biggest threat to spread of deadly corona virus because they are always crowded. Doctors treating infectious cases and now Corona virus cases, are directly exposed to catching infection. Shouldn’t they protect themselves? In Wuhan, few doctors have died after getting infected from their patients. Only if doctors protect themselves, they will be able to save the patients. So, following Supreme Court judges’ example, doctors in hospitals should also stop seeing general cases and limit themselves only to handling dire emergency cases. Maximum crowding in hospitals happens from general cases and referrals from other cities. Patients are always accompanied with their relatives. One must pay a visit to a government hospital on any day to see the crowds swarming the OPDs.

Supreme Court is leading with example, however bizarre it may be. Let doctors follow our constitution and conscience keepers and do their bit in not just treating but preventing spread of Corona virus infection. Crowds must go from hospitals! I’m not talking about hospitals in Delhi or Mumbai only but for all over the country, in small cities and towns also.

It is not funny calling doctors ‘gods’ now and later, in happy times, treating them contemptuously as commercial service providers who need to be pinned down under Consumer Protection Act, the only profession that is oppressed under this Act.

Lives of doctors are also precious. They have families too.

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