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JKHC orders resumption of physical court hearings

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16 out of 25 high courts resume physical hearing

Srinagar/New Delhi: The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has ordered the physical resumption of hearings in all courts from February 8 after more than eight months of relying on virtual hearing.
However, the entry of litigants and public into the Court premises from the very outer gate shall continue to be prohibited, reads an order by Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal.
“Keeping in view the latest SOPs of the Government of India and Government of Jammu & Kashmir relating to relaxation in restrictions regarding containment of COVID-19 and also the considerable decline in daily number of Covid-19 cases…..the physical hearing of the cases in the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir as well as in the District and Subordinate Courts and Tribunals in Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh shall resume with effect from 08.02.2021,” the order, issued on February 3, read.
However, with a view to ensure that there is no complacency against the spread of covid-19 infection, the Chief Justice ordered all latest SOPs of the Central and J&K Government regarding gathering at public places shall be followed in letter and spirit.
Advocates shall be allowed entry into the Court premises, the order said.
However, the Advocates have been asked to restrict their entry in a manner that only those Advocates enter the Court building on a given day whose cases are listed on that day before any of the Bench/Court.
“Entry of Clerks and Agents of the Advocates into the Court rooms shall continue to be prohibited for the time being. Entry of litigants and public into the Court premises from the very outer gate shall continue to be prohibited.”
If, however, any litigant on any reasonable ground is compelled to argue his case personally, he shall be allowed entry into the Court premises subject to the condition that he makes an application at least two days prior to the date of hearing through e-mail to the Registrar Judicial/Presiding Officer of the Court disclosing such compelling reasons and seeking permission in that regard, the order says.
The canteens located in the premises of the Court Complexes have been also permitted to be opened from February 8 subject to the strict observance of all the relevant SOPs, instructions etc.
Meanwhile, a total of 16 out of 25 high courts in the country have resumed physical hearings which had stopped following the coronavirus-induced lockdown, Rajya Sabha was informed on Thursday.
Nine high courts have not yet resumed physical hearings and are hearing matters virtually, the House was informed.
The government was asked whether many of the high courts are still functioning only through virtual hearing.
In his written reply, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, “Nine high courts are still functioning through virtual hearing only.”
These high courts are Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Manipur, Orissa, Punjab and Haryana and Sikkim.
In almost all the high courts, which have resumed physical hearing, online or video conference (VC) courts are still functioning.
The country has 25 high courts. (with PTI inputs)


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