Virtual court hearings to continue till May 15

Representational Photo

J&K Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal Monday directed that the filing/hearing of cases in the High Court as well as in the District and Subordinate Courts and Tribunals would be conducted through virtual mode till May 15.

This directive was issued keeping in view the alarming surge in COVID-19 cases in the country in general and Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh in particular. As per the directive, physical hearing in respect of any listed matter will be “at the discretion of the Bench concerned subject to the satisfaction of the Bench regarding extreme urgency involved in such matter and thereafter such case shall be taken up for physical hearing on the date fixed by the Bench.”

In case of District and Subordinate Courts and Tribunals in the two UTs, physical hearing in respect of any listed matter will be at the discretion of the judge concerned subject to the satisfaction of the judge regarding extreme urgency involved in such matter.

As per an Order No. 254 issued by the Registrar General, the entry of litigants, public and clerks of the advocates into the court premises from the very outer gate shall be strictly prohibited.

“For filing of cases, Registrars Judicial of both wings of the High Court shall create a dedicated email address of their respective filing counters and notify the same to the advocates/litigants by making it available on the website of the High Court. Ordinarily ‘Before Notice’ matters shall be taken up by each Bench unless urgency in respect of any ‘After Notice’ matter is shown to the satisfaction of the Bench concerned,” the order read.

It said that in order to decongest the sections/offices/Courts, the officials would be permitted to function in batches with 50 percent reduction on rotation basis. “The roster in this regard, 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 Registrars Judicial of both wings of the High Court shall ensure sanitization of the entire High Court complex on every Saturday and Sunday. The staff on duty and the counsel, if any permitted for physical healing, 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,” the order read.

It said that on account of virtual hearing, entry of lawyers in the High Court premises was not required unless any advocate was permitted for physical hearing in any extremely urgent matter.

Almost similar directions were issued for the District and Subordinate Courts and Tribunals.