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Coronavirus: CJI holds meeting on limiting SC functioning, Bombay Bar Association asks members to avoid handshakes

NEW DELHI: A meeting was held on Thursday evening at the residence of Chief Justice of India (CJI) S A Bobde to discuss the coronavirus outbreak and the possibility of limiting the Supreme Court’s functioning.

Besides the CJI, the other judges who attended the meeting were Justices Arun Mishra and U U Lalit, said lawyer and Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) secretary Ashok Arora who also attended the meeting.

“Regarding COVID-19, a meeting was held today (Thursday) at 7 pm at the residence of the CJI with Justice Arun Mishra and Justice U U Lalit, Attorney General, Solicitor General, Secretary SCBA, Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association (SCAORA) and officials of Ministry of Health and Ministry of Law,” Arora said.

He said the judges would take a call by Friday afternoon on whether to extend the ongoing vacation of the apex court or have limited functioning.

Arora said the apex court may consider using technology such as video-conferencing to ensure that there is less crowd of lawyers and litigants in the courtrooms.

He said it was discussed at the meeting that the top court may also consider not to list fresh and after-notice matters where the chances of lawyers and litigants coming to the courtrooms in large numbers are high.

The Bombay Bar Association (BBA) on Thursday urged its members to avoid handshakes and asked litigants not to visit its premises in wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

The BBA issued a notice asking members to use hand sanitizers, wear mask or cover their mouth and nose with a handkerchief while sneezing.

Handshakes should also be avoided, it added.

As per suggestions made by the BBA, the Bombay high court administration has agreed to provide temperature guns at security gates to screen entrants and issue directions to litigants to not attend proceedings unless asked by the court.

So far, 11 coronavirus cases have been reported in Maharashtra, including eight in Pune, two in Mumbai and one in Nagpur.