Updated: October 18, 2020 3:23:23 pm
Nearly seven months since the Gujarat High Court moved to virtual proceedings due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a detailed protocol was issued on Saturday owing to the court’s decision to permit physical reopening of advocates’ chambers in the court premises. The protocol includes an odd-even formula and limited working hours’ window of four hours.
As per the circular notifying the SoP on campus, the decision came at the behest of a representation made by the Gujarat High Court Advocates’ Association (GHAA). The SoP advises advocates to ensure entry and exit once a day, and that they will be allowed entry to the premises only after thermal screening and providing requisite details like name, mobile number and chamber number to the staff of the Registry. The advocates’ chambers will function from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 pm on court working days, where odd-numbered chambers will be permitted to operate on Monday, Wednesday and Friday in the first week of opening and even-numbered chambers can operate on Tuesday and Thursday. In the second week, even-numbered chambers will be permitted to open on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and in the remaining two days, odd-numbered chambers can operate.
According to a GHAA member, the advocates’ chambers are expected to open from October 26.
“The advocates who have been allotted chambers will be allowed access to both old and new chambers. Only one junior will be allowed access to the chamber. However, no client or litigant and clerk or any other staff shall be allowed access to the chambers and the court campus,” the notification stated.
If more than two Covid-19 cases are detected, chamber access will be suspended until the affected area is sanitised. Outside food has been barred and the GHAA has been entrusted with ensuring sanitisation of advocates’ chambers regularly while the housekeeping staff will sanitise corridors outside advocates’ chambers daily, after 2:30 p.m. Deputy Registrar J G Vithlani has been appointed the Covid-19 coordinator of the high court while GHAA has been asked to appoint a Covid-19 coordinator from their side as well. The library, Bar Association hall, advocates’ tea room and common rooms will remain closed until further orders.
On Saturday, the administrative side of the high court also held its first training-cum-awareness session for selected advocates of the Bar, who were nominated by the Bar Association, to understand the process of filing, circulation, office objections and scrutiny, with respect to matters as well as to encourage more matters to be filed electronically. The move comes following a surprise visit by Chief Justice Vikram Nath on October 9 at the court premises to take stock of processes being followed at the Central Filing Centre.
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