Several staff members of Supreme Court test positive for Covid-19
Several staff members of the Supreme Court have tested positive for the coronavirus disease (Covid-19). As of Saturday, at least 44 members from judges' offices and in the court registry are found to be infected with the viral disease.
Following this, sanitisation work is underway at the top court's premises including courtrooms and the proceedings will begin an hour late than their scheduled time. The Supreme Court has a staff strength of 3,400.
The latest outbreak comes as India is facing a spiralling Covid-19 crisis. On Monday, the country recorded as many as 168,912 fresh cases of infections which pushed the tally to over 13.52 million. Active cases in the country have gone up by 92,922 and the total number currently stands at 1,201,009. The death toll has also increased to 170,179 after 904 fresh fatalities, according to the numbers published on the Union health ministry's website.
After the latest spike, the country has overtaken Brazil to become the second-most affected country globally by the pandemic. As per John Hopkins tally, Brazil has a caseload of 13.48 million cases. The Unites States is at the top of the list with 31.19 million cases, according to John Hopkins.
After conducting virtual hearings since April last year, the top court decided to hold hybrid hearings from March 15.
However, the order was challenged by Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) president Vikas Singh pressed the Chief Justice of India for resuming physical hearing, citing concerns regarding the financial burden on lawyers. “I don’t want lawyers to die of starvation. The positivity rate of Covid-19 has come down to 0.3%. Lawyers are daily wagers. Today, the government has permitted 200 people to gather in closed spaces,” the senior advocate said on March 12.
The Supreme Court justified its order saying several states are reporting a surge in cases and it does not want to contribute to the rise.