High Court may turn to fans in effort to control Covid-19 spreadUpdated: Apr 30, 2020, 23:18 IST
The Delhi High Court is considering switching off the centralised air conditioning system in its premises and instead procure sufficient number of pedestal and wall fans this summer. This would be to reduce chances of infection by the Sars-CoV-2 virus responsible for the Covid-19 pandemic.
A senior offcial of the Delhi High Court, who did not wish to be quoted, said that the matter is open for discussion and the decision is yet to be made in this regard.
In a meeting held on April 28, a committee of four judges of the high court, headed by Justice Hima Kohli, officials from public works department (PWD) informed that if an infected person entered the area having central air-conditioning, there was a likelihood that the virus, exhaled by them, may remain airborne and may, in turn, infect others.
The committee was told that even if the court installed ultra violet germicide irradiation devices, it could not completely reduce chances of infection.They also said that even the Supreme Court had switched off its centralised air conditioning system.
They suggested that the court procure sufficient quantity of pedestal or wall fans and to install them at appropriate places in all the blocks.
“Since the windows and doors of court building may be required to be left open for proper circulation of air during the working hours, PWD shall ensure that all such windows have proper net/mesh so that no insects/mosquitoes etc. enter inside the court building,” the committee said while also directing the PWD to conduct a survey and submit a proposal regarding the required quantity of all such types of fans in every block.
The committee was also informed that one sanitisation machine, which takes body temperature and also dispenses sanitiser liquid, is likely to be received.
“Committee also resolves that besides the two handitrons already ordered…,two cart-type moveable devices, stated to be of around ₹4.5 lakh each, be procured. These, as per PWD, would he very handy for disinfecting the files, books, walls and other surfaces. PWD shall procure these devices subject to fulfillment of formalities and shall take steps for obtaining administrative approval and expenditure sanction at the earliest,” the minutes of the meeting read.
It also directed the Registrar General to get in touch with the Director General of Health Services and Chief Medical Officer and to apprise this Committee about the possibility of conducting of pool-testing for COVID-19 for staff and visitors of the courts.
The committee also said that every District & Sessions Judge, in coordination with the local Bar, would create facility for video conferencing in their respective District or court complex, if not already in place. This would cater to those advocates and litigants whose matters have been listed for hearing but who are not in a position to handle video conferencing from their respective homes or offices.
The committee also resolved that all those advocates, who visit this court or courts subordinate to it for ‘video-conferencing hearing’ need not wear coats, bands and ties. However, they shall adhere to the remaining dress code as prescribed under Advocates Act, 1961. Similarly, wearing of coats and ties is dispensed with for Registry officials of this court till further orders.
On April 24, a plea was filed by advocate KC Mittal, chairman of Bar Council of Delhi, seeking alternate arrangement plea which had sought an alternative arrangement for the use of centrally air conditioned buildings in the national capital in wake of the corona epidemic. He had also sought arrangements in the court so that the virus does not spread further and further the regular work is also not hampered.
Following this, the Centre has filed its reply highlighting the detailed guidelines issued by the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) in accordance with the report of ISHRAE, which has worked on the issue of centrally air conditioning alternatives to stop the spread of corona. The matter would be heard on May 1 where the HC report would also be taken into consideration.
The HC committee also said that since the lockdown has been made effective in the courts, no hearings had taken place in the Family Courts and hence hearing should start in these courts through video conferencing. It said that cases, in which arguments have already been heard and the order/ judgment has been reserved, shall be given priority.