HC mulls using fans instead of ACs citing Covid-19 risk

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New Delhi, April 30 (IANS) Amid the worldwide scare of coronavirus, the Delhi High Court is contemplating switching to ceiling fans from air conditioners fearing a higher risk of the dreaded virus.

A discussion took place during a meeting of a high-powered committee, headed by Justice Hima Kohli, constituted for for creating a ‘graded action plan’ to meet the challenges to be faced by courts in moving towards normal functioning after the lockdown.

“If a COVID-19-infected person enters an area having central air conditioning, there is every likelihood that the particles of such virus, exhaled by such a person may remain airborne and may, in turn, infect others,” the minutes of the meeting said.

During the course of the meeting, officials of the Public Works Department (PWD) informed the committee that even if the High Court spends massively on procuring and installing Ultra Violet Germicide Irradiation devices, there would still be no guarantee against viruses, including coronavirus.

While discussing whether a centralised AC plant can run in the High Court building post lockdown, an officials said, “Even in the Supreme Court, the central air-conditioning has not been switched on so far. Therefore, they suggest that instead of investing huge amounts in procuring these devices, whose utility is still not clear, the court may rather procure sufficient quantity of pedestal fans/wall fans and install them at appropriate places in all the blocks.”

The civic body officials also informed the committee that they would try to find out whether previously installed hooks, meant for ceiling fans, are still available so that they can be re-installed.

“Let PWD conduct a survey and submit a proposal on the required quantity of all such types of fans in every block. Since the windows and doors of the 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 enter inside the court building,” the committee concluded.

The committee passed a slew of directions for the functioning of district courts, including commencement of hearing of matters in which arguments have already been heard and the order/judgment has been reserved.

The committee also directed that a softcopy of the order/judgement for reference be sent to the email address of the counsel concerned on request.

The committee has also directed the Registrar General to get in touch with the Director General of Health Services and Chief Medical Officer and apprise them about the possibility of conducting pool-testing for COVID-19 for staff and visitors.

The Committee added that that tutorial/Power Point Presentation regarding features and use of e-filing be prominently displayed on the website of Family Courts and Delhi District Court.

“One court official of each District would act as coordinator. He would ensure that copy of the petition received through e-filing module is sent to the designated email of the concerned Judge well before the scheduled VC hearing,” It said.A

Following the lockdown, the functioning of the High Court and trial courts have been suspended till May 3 and matters of “extreme urgency” or “urgent nature” are being heard through video conferencing.