Just as Kolkata is opening up after a two and a half month lockdown, two judges of a city court in Kolkata have tested positive for COVID-19. The two judges are being treated in private hospitals while those who have come in contact with them have been advised to be in home quarantine and some have been advised to get themselves tested for COVID-19. The judges are part of the Alipore district and sessions court.
President of the West Bengal Judicial Services Association Manas Kumar Pal has written to the Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court which reads, “It creates a ‘sense of insecurity’ among the members of the subordinate judiciary and they have become scared thinking of their chances to exposure to the dreaded virus while the courts will go into normal functioning.”
The letter seeks necessary directions on officials concerned for proper evaluation of the situation before normal functioning of courts resume.
During the lockdown, the Calcutta High Court has been hearing urgent matters only through video conference to avoid crowding in courtrooms and the premises.
The Calcutta High Court is expected to start normal functioning of courts in a staggered manner and with less footfalls of court staff and lawyers in the court arena, while maintaining Central and State government directives of social distancing and sanitisation measures. The physical courts will resume from the 11th of June on an experimental basis. The week following that, physical courts will be held on Monday, Wednesday and Friday after which a call will be taken on the next course of action.
Not more than 8 lawyers and litigants are to be present inside the courtroom and three court staff will be present in the courtroom apart from the judges and the bench.
As of Friday, West Bengal has 7303 confirmed COVID-19 cases of which 4025 are active cases, while 294 deaths have been reported.