Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain believes it is more important now to prioritise saving lives than livelihoods as the coronavirus continues to pulverise Bangladesh.
He was responding to a call to increase the number of virtual benches amid the pandemic on Sunday, reports bdnews24.com.
Addressing the chief justice during a virtual hearing before a six-judge bench, Ruhul Quddus Kajol, secretary of the Supreme Court Bar Association, pointed out there are currently four virtual High Court benches.
With Eid approaching, lawyers would benefit from the addition of a few more virtual benches of the High Court, according to him.
“The Supreme Court goes in session five days a week together with the Appellate Division and the Chamber Court. So a few more virtual High Court benches could be introduced.
“Moreover, in the last one year, lawyers have become accustomed to virtual court proceedings. So it would benefit lawyers if at least 10 more virtual High Court benches can be introduced.
"As the secretary of the Bar Association, lawyers always talk to me about increasing the number of benches. That is why I have been raising this issue before you again and again. ”
In response, Chief Justice Hossain said, “Listen, we were also a part of the Bar (Bar Association). We also understand the problems facing lawyers. Both lives and livelihoods are important. But life comes first, then livelihood."
“Considering the risk of infection, the Appellate Division is now operating with only 40 staff members. The four virtual benches of the High Court require a lot of staff.
“In this situation, it would take a thousand staffers to run 10 more High Court benches. Then they will be exposed to the risk of infection. We have taken such a decision after considering all the issues. ”
Addressing Kajol, Justice Obaidul Hassan of the Appellate Division said, "You are the secretary of the lawyers' association, so you are speaking with the lawyers' best interest in mind.
“But we have to think about the entire Supreme Court, including the chief justice. We even have to think about the country. The chief justice made the decision with all that in mind.”
The government imposed a lockdown with strict restriction to contain the second wave of the coronavirus infection in the country.