Physical hearings in courts put to halt

Justice Pankaj Mithal

J&K Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal today put order of resumption of physical hearings in courts in abeyance in view of surge in Covid19 cases.

“Keeping in view the sudden surge in Covid19 cases in the country in general and Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and Union Territory of Ladakh in particular, the High Court has kept resumption of physical hearing of cases in abeyance for the time being and hearing of cases in the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir as well as in the District and Subordinate Courts and Tribunals shall be conducted through virtual mode,” reads the order issued by J&K High Court.

It states that the entry of the litigants and public into the court premises from the very outer gate shall continue to be prohibited, while in-addition to virtual hearing, the matters may also be taken up for physical hearing.

“Identification of cases for physical hearing shall be done by the concerned Registrar Judicial a day before the date of listening,” the order reads.

It further adds advocates concerned in particular cases, 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 e-mail at least two days before the date of listing.

Meanwhile, in order to decongest the sections, offices, and courts, the officials shall be permitted to function in batches with 25 percent reduction on rotation basis. The roster shall be formulated by the Registrar Judicial of the concerned wing.

The officials, who as per the rosters 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 the court shall take necessary precautions, ensure physical distancing, wearing of masks and observance of Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) and guideline issued by the Government,” reads the order.

Similarly, District and Subordinate Courts, and Tribunals in both the Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh shall also observe set measures for Covid19.

Principal District and Sessions Judges, taking into consideration the urgency involved, apart from virtual hearing, may, where the counsel to 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 matters as deemed desirable in the courts under their jurisdiction, as per the order. These directions shall remain in force till April 18, 2021.