Hearings hit as 6 Supreme Court judges get swine flu

Six Supreme Court (SC) judges have contracted the influenza A (H1N1) virus — commonly known as swine flu — over the past two weeks, justice DY Chandrachud said in open court on Tuesday.

The judge said Chief Justice of India (CJI) Sharad Arvind Bobde had held a meeting with other judges to discuss the steps that may need to be taken to address the situation.

Justice Arun Mishra also broached the subject when senior advocate C Aryama Sundaram, who was arguing a case, sought permission to be substituted by another lawyer on grounds that he wasn’t feeling well.

“It is a request to everyone here, don’t come to court if you are not feeling well,” justice Mishra said.

A statement issued by the health ministry on Tuesday stated that five SC judges had contracted swine flu and were provided treatment. The ministry said five SC judges are indisposed because of swine flu, but justice Chandrachud remarked that six of his colleagues had contracted the virus. The statement didn’t name the judges.

The statement also said that three of the judges had returned to work and two are still under observation.

“All the judges were provided treatment . Prophylactic treatment was also given to all who have come in contact with them including their family members. All five judges were kept in home isolation. Of these, three judges have already resumed their duty and two continue to be under home isolation/observation and are recovering,” the statement said.

According to the statement, the court rooms of the SC and the judges’ residences were being sanitised. An H1N1 sensitisation workshop for lawyers and other staff members will also be conducted by the health ministry at the office of Bar Council of India on Wednesday.

Officials in the SC, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said all judges had recovered and nobody was under treatment although one of the them is yet to resume duty.

Hearing in various cases in the SC had been affected because of the non-availability of judges, the Sabarimala case being the most prominent among them.

The 9-judge SC bench, which was constituted to decide legal questions surrounding the entry of women into Sabarimala shrine and similar issues among the Muslim and Parsi communities, was scheduled to sit on February 18. However, the hearing has not happened yet due to the non-availability of some of the judges on the bench.

The Supreme Court Bar Association has pledged ₹10 lakh to enable lawyers who are unable to afford vaccination costs to undergo inoculation.

On Tuesday, Justice Sanjiv Khanna was seen wearing a mask in court room 2.

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