Lack of precautionary measures at ATCs in Karachi exposes staff, lawyers to coronavirus

Updated 11 May 2020

Email

Judicial staff complained that no preventive measures or facilities had been provided to them by the government despite the number of infected staffers was increasing. — Getty Images/File
Judicial staff complained that no preventive measures or facilities had been provided to them by the government despite the number of infected staffers was increasing. — Getty Images/File

KARACHI: The judicial officers, staffers and lawyers at the anti-terrorism courts are exposed to risks of getting infected with Covid-19 owing to lack of precautionary measures there.

The judicial staffers and lawyers said that around four people had so far tested positive for the coronavirus.

The latest case is of a 38-year-old staffer of the ATC-XIII, whose test was found positive for the deadly virus, said judicial staffers.

Therefore, the judge of the relevant court had asked the health authorities to ensure tests were conducted of other staffers who remained in close contact with the infected person.

“Their test results are awaited,” a staffer told Dawn on Saturday. The judicial staff and state prosecutors of the ATCs — 18 operating in the judicial complex inside the central prison and two in Clifton — complained that no preventive measures or facilities had been provided to them by the government despite the number of infected staffers was increasing.

Recently, another judicial staffer, posted at the ATC-XIV, had also tested positive for the coronavirus.

Four persons have already tested positive for Covid-19

The judge of the relevant court had also asked the medical superintendent of the Services Hospital Karachi to ensure tests of other court staffers were conducted. Their tests results were awaited.

Earlier, a policeman on security duty at the ATCs was also reportedly found positive for the coronavirus.

“There are no sanitisers, face masks or thermal body temperature testing machines at both venues of the courts,” the staffer said.

He said the judges had instructed everyone entering the courtrooms — including staffers, prosecutors, the investigating officers, lawyers and the inmates — to use sanitisers and have their mouths and noses covered.

“The judges, as well as the staff members and prosecutors, have purchased face masks and hand-sanitisers for themselves from their own pockets since the government has provided nothing to them,” another staffer said.

He deplored that while the government was aggressively implementing the ban regarding social distancing at public places, it was ignoring its own departments despite the number of patients at the ATCs.

The judicial and prosecution officials said that the judges, their staff and the special public prosecutor were duty-bound to the courts to conduct daily judicial work (in criminal cases) under the directives of the Sindh High Court.

“Every day the judges, their staff and the prosecutors come to the courts despite the fact that the investigating officers and the lawyers representing the parties in the cases mostly remain absent under the pretext of the ongoing lockdown in the city,” a prosecutor said.

He urged the authorities concerned to ensure that preventive arrangements were made at the ATCs judicial complex to save the lives of the judges, staff, the lawyers and the inmates.

Published in Dawn, May 11th, 2020