India's vicious second wave of the coronavirus has affected the Supreme Court massively with the court making a Covid test mandatory for everyone who enters its premises with symptoms of the deadly disease.
The court, in a circular, also said that people with fever, body ache or loss of smell should not come to court and isolate themselves. If found with any symptoms, the staff as well as advocates must undergo an RT-PCR test or a Rapid Antigen Test. The RT-PCR test is considered the gold standard in coronavirus testing.
The Supreme Court issued the new guidelines to control the exploding Covid cases among its staff. Last Saturday, 44 of 90 court employees tested for Covid-19 turned out positive, sparking panic among some judges.
The top court is now holding hearings via video conferencing from home. The entire premises, including the courtrooms, have been sanitised.
The court also said that there should be no loitering or crowding in its premises and elevators should be used only for going up. Only three people will be allowed at a time in an elevator.
"For coming downstairs, stairs should be used," a circular from the Supreme Court read.
Work in the common areas should be completed in minimum time, the circular read.
These measures will be in addition to the existing coronavirus protocols which include social distancing and wearing a face mask.
The top court's functioning has not been affected in any way except for hearings that are now being held virtually.
"Judicial work will not be affected by the pandemic," Justice DY Chandrachud told NDTV on Monday. "The Supreme Court has adequate infrastructure for judicial work," he said, referring to the 1,600 video-conferencing links available with it.
India, gripped by the deadly second wave of the pandemic, reported 1,84,372 new coronavirus infections in the last 24 hours, hitting the highest daily tally once again. The new cases pushed the total cases to over 1.38 crore. Deaths rose by 1,027 to 1,72,085.