COVID-19: Virtual hearing in courts extended till May 15 in J&K, Ladakh

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Jammu, Apr 26 (PTI) The virtual hearing in courts across the twin Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh has been extended till May 15, an order issued by Chief Justice of J&K High Court Justice Pankaj Mithal said on Monday.

However, the order said the physical hearing in respect of any listed matter would be at the discretion of the bench or judge concerned, subject to their satisfaction regarding extreme urgency involved in such matter.

Keeping in view the alarming surge in COVID-19 infection cases in the country in general and the UTs of J&K and Ladakh in particular, the filing or hearing of cases in both wings of High Court (Jammu and Srinagar) as well as in the district and subordinate courts and tribunals would be conducted through virtual mode, the order read.

The directions would remain in force till May 15 unless reviewed earlier, Justice Mithal said in his order. The Jammu and Kashmir High Court is the common high court for the UTs of J&K and Ladakh.

Issuing the guidelines to be followed, the order said the entry of litigants, public and clerks of the advocates into the court premises from the outer gate would be strictly prohibited.

For filing of cases, registrars (judicial) of both wings of the high court would create a dedicated email address of their respective filing counters and notify the same to the advocates or litigants by making it available on the HC website, it said.

The order said the ordinarily 'before notice' matters would 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,” the order said.

In order to decongest the offices inside the courts, the order said the officials would be permitted to function in batches with 50 per cent 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 order said.

The chief justice directed the registrars (judicial) of both wings of the high court to ensure sanitisation of the entire court complex every Saturday and Sunday.

On account of virtual hearings, the order said the entry of lawyers in the HC premises is not required unless any advocate is permitted for physical hearing in any extremely urgent matter. PTI TAS AB HDA