The Delhi High Court asked the Delhi Government to decide a representation seeking an arrangement of COVID-19 testing labs in Court premises for advocates, judicial officers, their staff and family members (Vishesh Verma vs Govt of NCT of Delhi).
Brief Facts of the Case
Advocate Vishesh Verma, an advocate and social activist, had filed a PIL in the High Court of Delhi on 8th June 2020. The petitioner sought relief for arranging facilities in Court
premises. This was for collection of COVID-19 samples and their testing for the legal fraternity. This included the advocates, judicial officers and the staff.
Arguments by the Parties
The petition stated that thousands of advocates and judicial officers were practicing/working in Delhi-NCR during the COVID-19 situation. But there were no facilities provided to the advocates to stop the spread of the virus. It said that in such a situation, the advocates, judicial officers and their staff were not safe because most of the advocates were dependent upon practice and leading the life on a daily basis through legal practice alone. The plea said that several advocates were receiving funds from Bar Council of Delhi. This was because of unemployment due to the lock down. And it also stated that these funds were not sufficient for their livelihood.
The petitioner asserted that after doctors, health professionals and police, advocates had most public dealing.
They were at the high risk of infection of the virus. The petitioner stated that there had been several instances of affecting of judicial officers and Court staff in the city with COVID-19. It also specified that the number of infected persons may go up to 5.5 lakh in some time. The petitioner, during the hearing, also stated that he had already made a representation in this regard to the Delhi government but the Government took no action.
The counsel for the Delhi Government, Advocate Jawahar Raja stated that setting up a testing facility was not practicable given the aerosolization in the surrounding with the virus at the time of testing.
A division Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Prateek Jalan looked into the matter. And the hearing was held via video conferencing. The Court questioned the petitioner, that if the advocates were getting affected more than people running the chemist and grocery shops, to which he replied yes. The Court remarked that the people of the legal fraternity were not the only ones who were getting affected. It also asserted that the lawyers can use the labs and sample collection facilities already in existence.
The Court later noted that the representation of the Petitioner on the issue was still pending with the Delhi Government. It asked the Delhi Government to decide the pending representation in accordance with the law. They were to take the decision as expeditiously as possible and practicable.
The Court declined to entertain this PIL as it did not agree to the contentions of the petitioner.
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