With a massive second wave of COVID-19 sweeping through India and many states, there is an urgent need for imposed lockdowns to minimise the risks of the virus.
On similar lines, the Jharkhand State Bar Council called for an urgent meeting to discuss the health issues regarding the COVID 19 pandemic on Sunday (April 18, 2021). It was noted that a large number of people have fallen ill including Advocates, Judges, Doctors, and several precious lives have also been lost. In order to control the current situation in Jharkhand state, the Bar Council ordered restrain on all the Court work whether physical or virtual. The Council has taken note that many from the legal fraternity have fallen prone to the virus and to overcome this, strict measures are required.
The medical facilities and supplies in Jharkhand are grossly unsatisfactory. Strict measures are to be taken not only to break the COVID-19 spread but also to improve the medical facilities and supplies. On Monday (April 19, 2021), the Jharkhand Bar Council unanimously agreed, that for the seven days starting from April 19, 2021, all the activities of Advocates and their support staff shall completely restrained including the Court work whether physical or virtual, and whether at High Court or District Court or any other court in the state. On the same day, the State Board Council informed the High Court that they had designated a sum of Rs. 50 Lakh to meet its requirements for the medical facilities and supplies and expenses during the period of COVID-19. Over 35000 lawyers of state abstained from judicial work to express solidarity in protection against this ongoing pandemic. The Chief Minister of Jharkhand, Hemant Soren wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking his permission in this regard and requesting a permit to avail services of doctors and paramedics of Central Para Military Forces (CPMF) and military hospitals situated in the state to help in ‘Treatment and Management' of COVID-19 patients. In the letter, Hemant Soren said if we look at the first year during the first wave of COVID -19, more than 90% of cases were asymptomatic and the number of people requiring Oxygen or Ventilator support was not very high. Hemant Soren wrote in the letter, “We had anticipated the second wave to be less virulent due to vaccination and herd immunity. But it has surprisingly turned out to be extremely virulent. We are trying to fight this pandemic with whatever medical infrastructure and resources that are available in this backward state. All the doctors and paramedics available in the government and the private sector are being optimally utilized. But, the requirement to handle the current caseload is much higher than the availability.” On Saturday (April 17, 2021), the court granted bail to Prasad in the Dumka treasury case of the multi-crore fodder scam, paving way for his release from jail after three years of incarceration. The accused, Prasad was currently undergoing treatment at All Indian Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi while in custody. Realising the concerning situation, the Vice-Chairperson of Jharkhand State Bar Council, Mr Rajesh Shukla supported the council’s decision saying, “It is the lawyers who are going to incur economic losses due to complete lockdown in courts. But, we have to take this decision due to the prevailing condition. The health services are grossly unsatisfactory. Many advocates and their staff have already fallen ill. In the last few days, many advocates have died due to the infection. Our priority is to save precious lives and break the chain of infection in the larger interest of the public. There is no intention to harass anyone.” A summary meeting of the Council is scheduled for next Sunday (April 25, 2021), to make further decisions on the matter. The Advocate Welfare Fund Trustee Committee of the state has been directed to convene a meeting as soon as possible by the Division Bench of Chief Justice Ravi Ranjan and Justice Sujit Narayan Prasad. The Jharkhand State Bar Council will be required to adhere to the seven-day restraining order, as directed.