CJ Mithal orders virtual hearings at J&K, Ladakh courts till May 15

The entry of litigants, public and clerks of the advocates into the court premises from the very outer gate shall be strictly prohibited in both wings of the High Court.
CJ Mithal orders virtual hearings at J&K, Ladakh courts till May 15
File Photo of Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal

Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal on Monday ordered that filing as well as 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 till May 15 in view of the prevailing COVID-19 surge. 

Quoting an order issued in this regard, news agency GNS reported that the CJ has directed that the entry of litigants, public and clerks of the advocates into the court premises from the very outer gate shall be strictly prohibited in both wings of the High Court. 

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, " it said. 

As per the order, '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. 

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, reads the order. 

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

In order to decongest the sections/offices/Courts, the Chief Justice said the officials shall 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 order said. 

The officials, who as per the roster are not on duty in the office, have been asked not to leave the station and remain available on telephone and electronic means of communication at all times. 

Regarding District and Subordinate Courts and Tribunals in Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh, the Chief Justice ordered that 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, the Presiding Officers shall create a dedicated email address of their respective courts and make it available to the advocates/litigants by posting the same on the website of their District Courts concerned or through any appropriate electronic mode," reads the order. 

As per the order, the Principal District and Sessions Judges, shall categorise the emergent nature of cases of their respective courts and the courts subordinate to them which shall be taken up for hearing through virtual mode. 

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, it said. 

It further said in order to decongest the sections and offices of the courts, the officials working in the subordinate courts shall be permitted to function in batches with 50 percent reduction on rotation basis. 

The roster in this regard, shall be formulated by the Presiding Officer of the Court. 

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, " it said. 

"The staff on duty in courts and the counsel, if any permitted for physical hearing, 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," added the order. 

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