To open or not to open: Are courts too cautious? Spare a thought for lawyers

The Covid-19 crisis has pushed the human race into a struggle for survival, the horrific impact on health, human psyche and finance is beyond description. The world is reeling under the unprecedented pressure unleashed by the virus, the human behavior has undergone a sea change since the spread of the virus. The tricky virus keep changing its pattern, leaving the medical world baffled, the symptoms of initial months have now multiplied and gets on added; it is acknowledged it can take any form, presumptions are being proved wrong in no time, the masks have become the most essential preventive measure along with the physical distancing. Our country is giving a challenge to this deadly virus, it went into lockdown mode in a flash, though critics cry foul over no notice of lock down, a deep thinking would give answer, if mass movement was the intent of national lock down, why there should be a lock down at all. The war is being led against an invisible virus, whose deadly patterns are still being learned, the mighty and advanced nations are still struggling in the pandemic. The economic activity propels the mankind, when its wheel comes to a standstill, the life too stands still, having said that, let us remember, here, we are fighting a virus which thrives when humans come together. The one infected person among the group can be a cause of super spread and he or she can bring down hundreds of innocents to sick bed. Ignorance about the pattern of virus made a head of an Italian city ask his fellow men to hug those returning from China in the initial phase and the world saw the results with unbelieving eyes, coffins piled up and trucks made a beeline with human corpses.

The Prime Minister has been continuously asking the citizens to maintain physical distance, to keep hygiene and to protect themselves from the virus, with abundant caution; the free ration till November for a whopping population is a strong message to the world and points to the need of unrelenting guard. Where ever this guard has come down, the virus is wrecking havoc. The States which saw the innumerable shadows of death short while back, is attempting to limp back to normalcy, the predictions of future affected in such places were in lakhs in July, the timely interference of the Central Government in the comprehensive task, the meticulous ways of execution and the co-operation between various branches of the system, are erecting a wall of defense against the deadly virus. But, this wall’s foundation lies in basic rules of effective masking, respiratory hygiene, physical distancing, strict following of rules attached to an individual’s movement, meaning thereby un wanted movements need to be avoided in all sense.

The institutions which invite crowd can’t be allowed in the changed circumstances to follow the old ways, it’s a virus, it’s not a human induced calamity, but human behavior can certainly control its spread, is what we learn from the short experience, it can’t be checked by police or army, the theories which are not backed by science are to be ignored, the economic needle needs to move, certainly the fire of appetite can’t  find a solace in the fear of virus, the negligence or slight callousness can be very inviting to the pandemic to again experiment on the turfs which it seems to say a good bye.  

We are passing through a very critical phase, where each individual owes a responsibility to the fellow citizens and the state administration, many institutions like the Supreme Court and High Courts have limited their physical interactions only to ensure the health of none should get affected, to ensure none falls in the trap of death, only to ensure the horrific scenes of dead bodies being buried together which we witness in different part of the world is not repeated here, this is an unprecedented crisis, the virus is not fearful of any individuals, groups, associations, institutions, parties, uniforms, if someone takes the unlocking process as equal to a withdrawal of general strike, which will lead to complete action of official work like in pre-March period, it will lead to catastrophic results. 

The institutions which invite large gatherings should seriously think of inclusive alternatives, the Supreme Court of India, Delhi High Court and recently the Delhi District Courts have set an example by switching over to a virtual alternative in order to avoid gatherings, coupled with the same, the Bar Associations have extended appreciable urgent economic support plans to the needy members. The financial help (even in the form of repayable loan) should immediately reach all the needy practicing lawyers through efficient non-discriminatory disbursal channels, no doubt they are bearing the brunt, it should also take care junior advocates who are dependent and the most needy, the system should ensure non is pushed to the danger zone and a point of no return due to callousness. This callousness can be in many forms like not wearing the mask properly, not following the post pandemic etiquettes. If on-line meet fails for a moment, entire system should not be cursed, it’s an attempt to erect an alternative in turbulent times. Nobody likes any institution to be closed but having a deadly virus around which changes its pattern in a glimpse and which rejoices when humans come together in group, forcing many on to their last journey should make the concerned authorities think, not once or twice but hundred times, the disaster is looming large, should it be allowed to rain on us. The guard should be on till a medical advisory allows to relax it, everything gets opened, so open up, is certainly not the path to trek safely in a pandemic. Once such assured medical opinion is in favour, naturally, the system will fall back on to the track of normalcy in no time, till then, the path has to be tread with utmost caution.

Note: When the lockdown was imposed some cried asking why lockdown, then they did all they could to break the lockdown, when the virus spread in the said mele, they still stand among us and tell – look it’s spreading, it’s strange human behavior. Wisdom lies in following the health advises. A great salute to all the doctors (special mention to Dr Shubhang Singh and fifty doctor heroes team in Delhi, Seema Jagran Manch Free–Covid On-line Help) and paramedical staffs across the country for fighting this war from the front, without them this fight is impossible, there are heroes who showed the courage to walk in to the ground zero of danger zone, like the Home Minister of India, to see the system is on track, let us salute them, and wish an early recovery.