Coronavirus scare: Calcutta HC, subordinate courts to hear only urgent matters

Kolkata, Mar 15 (PTI) The Calcutta High Court and all subordinate courts in West Bengal and Andaman and Nicobar will hear only urgent matters from March 17 to avoid mass gatherings in view of the coronavirus outbreak, an official said on Sunday.

In a notification, Calcutta HC registrar general Rai Chattopadhyay said no adverse orders will be passed on matters where parties are found absent till the situation persists.

This will apply even to matters listed for March 16, Chattopadhyay said.

'From Tuesday (March 17), the cause list will be published for only those matters which are urgent in nature and mentioned before the respective benches for listing,' the notification said.

Instead of physically producing undertrial prisoners in courts, a video conference facility should be availed, the notification said.

The presence of staffers in all courts in the state shall be reduced by at least half and the office shall ensure that they work on rotation, the registrar general said.

The directives will also be applicable to circuit benches of the high court at Jalpaiguri and Andaman and Nicobar, she said.

The situation will be reviewed on March 20, Chattopadhyay added.

'Courts should not insist on the presence of the parties, unless it is unavoidable,' the notification said, adding that appropriate measures need to be taken to regulate entry of litigants and general public in the court complex to avoid crowding.

It has asked doctors working in the medical unit to be present at all entry points of the main building and the centenary and sesquicentenary buildings of the high court with 'thermal guns' to check the temperature of every single entrant.

If a person is found to be suffering from fever, immediate follow-up action will be taken by the doctors stationed at such points, including restricting their entry.

The registrar general will write to the West Bengal government for increasing the strength of doctors in the high court and providing thermal guns in adequate numbers.

Requests for similar measures will be made to the state government for all district and subdivisional courts, the notification said.

The judges and the bar associations will also ensure that interns are not permitted in the court complex till the present situation persists, Chattopadhyay said.

Lawyers have been asked to advise clients not to visit the court unless their presence is unavoidable.

'All judges may leave the court complex and release their staff as early as possible,' the notification said. PTI AMR RBT DPB