After doctors and engineers, eleven lawyers in Chattogram have died of Covid-19 or with symptoms of the deadly virus so far.
Judicial magistrates are also being infected here.
Of the 11 lawyers, five died of Covid-19 while some died with Covid-19 symptoms and others of respiratory problems and heart attacks in May and June, Chittagong District Bar Association (CDBA) sources said.
Even though the court remained closed on public holidays and then virtual court has been launched, the rate of lawyers' deaths is not decreasing.
Despite the virtual hearing, the risk is increasing day by day as lawyers have to move everywhere for other tasks related to the cases, lawyers said.
HM Ziauddin, general secretary of CDBA, said two infected lawyers were currently undergoing treatment and 12 were in isolation.
"We have formed a medical response team to protect lawyers and their families. We are providing oxygen and nebulizers for those who are sick. We are also going to launch an ambulance service for them to provide 24-hour service."
The lawyers who died are Assistant Attorney General Sanchita Saha, Advocate Kabir Chowdhury, Advocate Abdus Salam, Advocate Fazlul Karim, Advocate Mahbubul Haque, Advocate Bijan Kumar, Advocate Sheikh SI Kamal Uddin Chowdhury, Advocate Md Abul Kashem Chowdhury, Advocate Suchitra Kumar Ghosh, Advocate Nur Uddin Ahmed, and Advocate Kaiser Belal, member of Taxes Bar.
Additionally, more than ten police and employees working at the Chattogram court- including court inspector of the Chief Judicial Magistrate Court- are infected with Covid-19.
A group of the lawyers said that earlier only bail hearings were held. But now, after Eid, hearings on cheque-related cases and important civil cases are also being held. As the number of clients has increased than before, the risk of Covid-19 infection has increased.
Many, including lawyers, clients and clerks flock to see the list hung up in the CMM court providing timetables of the cases. So even if you want to follow hygiene rules, it is not possible to comply with it completely. So, the court compound is not safe in that way.
In the court, many people who have Covid-19 symptoms are avoiding tests for fear of humiliation which has also increased the risk, people concerned said.
However, another group of lawyers said the virtual court is running following hygiene rules and regulations. Only emergency filing and bail hearings are going on. The court is not as crowded as before. But, some lawyers have been attending their private chambers since Eid for work and livelihood amid risk of infection.
Advocate Sheikh Iftekhar Saimul Chowdhury, former president of the CDBA, said, "We have to move everywhere for other tasks related to cases to join virtual hearing. As a result, the risk of infection for others, including lawyers, is increasing."
Apart from young lawyers, 70 to 80 percent of lawyers in Chattogram yet to have a clear idea about the digitised system, as it has been introduced without any prior training. So, many of them are coming to court for hearing, he added.
Besides, the court hears bail petitions filed by the detainees but many of their relatives throng the court which also increases risk.