In view of the havoc caused by the global pandemic novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the Supreme Court has decided that from March 16 it will take up for hearing only urgent matters and no persons except lawyers concerned will be allowed inside its courtrooms.
The apex court, which has been mulling over the issue in its meetings held at the residence of Chief Justice of India S A Bobde , took note of the government’s March 5 advisory cautioning against mass gatherings in view of the fact that the World Health Organisation has declared COVID-19 a ‘global pandemic’.
The apex court’s notification, issued by its secretary general Sanjeev S Kalgaonkar, said it has been decided that its functioning shall be restricted to urgent matters with such number of benches as may be found appropriate.
‘On reviewing the advisory issued by the Government of India and in view of the opinion of public health experts including medical professionals and also considering the safety and welfare of all the visitors, litigants, lawyers, court staff, security, maintenance and support staff, student interns and media professionals, 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,’ the notification said.
‘It is hereby notified that no persons except the lawyers who are going to act in the matter, that is either for argument or for making oral submissions or to assist along with one litigant only, shall be permitted in the court room,’ it said, adding that the mentioning of matters for urgent hearing will be made only before the mentioning officer.