Covid surge: Chief Justice orders virtual hearing of cases in JK courts
Srinagar, Apr 5: Jammu and Kashmir High Court has put its order regarding resumption of physical hearing in abeyance amid surge in covid-19 cases.
As per an order by Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal, the hearing of cases in the High Court of Jammu & Kashmir as well as in the District and Subordinate Courts and Tribunals shall be conducted through “Virtual Mode” for time being.
“Entry of litigants and public into the Court premises from the very outer gate shall continue to be prohibited,” reads an order.
In addition to virtual hearing, the Chief Justice said that the matters may also be taken up for physical hearing, where the counsel for both the parties to the case give their consent for such physical hearing.
“If counsel for either party declines or fails to give such consent in that event the roster bench may consider the request of other counsel for physical hearing,” the order reads
Identification of cases for physical hearing shall be done by the concerned Registrar Judicial a day before the date of listing, the order said.
“Advocates concerned in a particular case, who intend to get their case listed for physical hearing, shall give written consent for physical appearance and provide the requisite detail of the case to the concerned Registrar Judicial through email at least two days before the date of listing.”
The Registrar Judicial concerned, then, shall provide list of such counsel whose cases are listed for physical hearing, well in time to the incharge Security at the main gate to facilitate entry of such counsel, it said.
“In order to decongest the sections/ offices /Courts, the officials shall be permitted to function in batches with 25 percent reduction on rotation basis.”
The roster in this regard, the order said, shall be formulated by the Registrar Judicial of the concerned wing.
“The officials, who as per the roster are not on duty in the office, shall not leave the station and shall remain available on telephone and electronic means of communication at all times.”
The staff on duty and the counsel appearing physically in Court shall take necessary precautions, ensure physical distancing, wearing of mask and observance of SOPs and guidelines issued by the respective Governments (J&K and Ladakh) from time to time.”
Regarding district and Subordinate Courts and Tribunals in J&K and Ladakh, the CJ‘s order said that entry of litigants and public into the Court premises from the very outer gate shall continue to be prohibited. “Pr. District & Sessions Judges, taking into consideration the urgency involved, apart from virtual hearing, may, where the counsel for the parties /parties in person involved give their consent to appear for physical hearing, permit physical hearing in Criminal trials where accused is /are in Custody, Matrimonial Cases, MACT Cases, Cases under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, Compromise matters or in any other matter as deemed desirable in the courts under their jurisdiction.” The courts under the supervision of concerned Pr. District & Sessions Judge, the order said, shall devise their own mechanism for listing of cases for physical hearing after taking consent of respective counsel, subject to their own assessment of prevailing local conditions including the intensity of COVID-19 infection. “The staff on duty in courts and the counsel appearing physically shall take necessary precautions, ensure physical distancing, wearing of mask and observance of SOPs and guidelines issued by the respective Governments from time to time.”
In order to decongest the sections/ offices of the Courts, the officials working in the Subordinate Courts, shall be permitted to function in batches with 25 percent reduction on rotation basis, the order added.