A lawyer caused a brief panic in the Supreme Court on Wednesday when he revealed during a hearing that he was suffering from Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
The episode occurred while Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed was hearing a case in a full Courtroom No.1 in Islamabad.
“I am appearing in your court despite having corona,” Barrister Dr Adnan Khan told the top judge.
His disclosure caused alarm in the court, with the CJP expressing displeasure at his appearance in spite of his positive diagnosis.
“Why have you shown up in court? You are playing with others’ lives,” Justice Ahmed told Khan.
In response, Barrister Khan said that he had submitted an application to adjourn a case in a different court after testing positive for the virus, but that request was rejected. He suggested he decided to show up using that as a precedent.
“I came because an important case was being heard today of lecturers of the Higher Education [Commission],” said the lawyer, who was representing lecturers in the case.
Unconvinced by his explanation, the CJP directed the counsel to submit his arguments in writing instead and immediately leave the courtroom.
Barrister Khan subsequently left the court.
According to experts, Pakistan is currently experiencing the second wave of the coronavirus with infections, positivity rate and deaths all on the rise. Federal and provincial governments have stepped up restrictions to try and control the spread of the virus, including imposing ‘smart lockdowns’ and shutting down educational institutions from November 26.
The country has so far officially registered nearly 383,000 cases and 7,803 deaths since recording its first case on February 26.
As with other professions, the virus has not spared the judiciary either and in what appeared to be the case of the most high-profile personality falling victim to the disease in Pakistan, Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Waqar Ahmed Seth earlier this month passed away in Islamabad due to Covid-19.
Pakistan reported more than 3,000 daily coronavirus cases and 59 deaths during the last 24 hours — the highest daily total of infections the country has registered since July 9.
On Tuesday, Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar had expressed the fear that the country might face the worst coronavirus situation — similar to the peak seen in June — in two weeks’ time if preventive measures were not strictly adhered to.