The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), and another lawyer's body, and SCAORA have decided to recommend to the Chief Justice of India SA Bobde to prepone the summer vacation in the top court by declaring holidays for two to four weeks in view of the coronavirus pandemic.
In an executive committee meeting of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) held on Saturday, it was resolved that the summer vacation of the top court should be preponed and holidays declared from March 23 onwards for four weeks. "Considering the various suggestions made by distinguished members of the EC (executive council), it has been resolved that Chief Justice and Justices of the Supreme Court may consider the feelings and well being of all stake holders, declare vacation in the Supreme Court for four weeks beginning from Monday, March 23," a copy of the resolution sent to the media by SCBA said.
It said the executive council has resolved that further action in this regard should be taken after three weeks by analysing the situation. "The EC also requests the court to adjust the lost days in the forthcoming summer vacation accordingly. The EC also resolves to inform the court of its readiness to help the institution at any point of time," the resolution said.
The Supreme Court is scheduled to go on summer vacation from May 18 till July 5 during which vacation benches usually take up urgent matters. The resolution of the SCAORA also made some suggestions in case the proposal for declaring holidays for at least two weeks is not accepted.
Similarly, another lawyers' body Supreme Court Advocate on Record Association (SCAORA) also held a meeting and passed a resolution saying "considering the seriousness/severity of the present situation and to curtail the outbreak of the pandemic coronavirus (Covid-19) and with a view to safeguard and protect the members of the Bar, the Court, office staff and also the registry staff, it is resolved to unequivocally recommend to the honourable CJI to close the Supreme Court for a period of at least two weeks".
The lawyers’ body suggested that filing of matters be completely stopped except for urgent matters pertaining to death warrants, bail or custody and habeas corpus petitions. It said the bench of apex court judges be constituted only when imminently required and as and when the said urgent matters are entertained. It said that in lieu of the loss of court hours, the summer vacation may be curtailed in the month of May and if necessary the top court may function on a few Saturdays accordingly.
The statement also added that entry to entire apex court premises be restricted only to advocates and clerks associated with urgent matters and all High Courts be requested to issue directives to the authorities within their territorial jurisdictions not to carry out demolitions or auction properties until further orders.
Currently, there are 271 confirmed cases of the novel Coronavirus in India with one death reported in Mumbai, Delhi, Kalaburagi and Punjab each. In Delhi, 26 people have tested positive for COVID-19. Addressing the nation on Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi talked extensively about the challenges caused due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. He stressed that “resolve” and “restraint” were the two most important things to be followed. Thereafter, he announced that Janta Curfew - a curfew for the people and of the people would be observed on Sunday, March 22. On this day, all citizens except those providing essential services were requested not to step out of the house from 7 am to 9 pm.
(with PTI inputs)