THREE DAYS after the trial court dismissed Himachal Pradesh IPS officer Zahur Haider Zaidi’s bail plea in the Kotkhai custodial death case, the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Monday had to pass a judicial order to direct the lower court in Chandigarh to upload the bail order on its website to allow the HC to proceed in appeal. The brief HC order reflects how the COVID-19 situation has impacted the functioning of judiciary in the region.
Due to the restricted functioning of courts across the region, the lower courts haven’t been able to keep their websites up to date, and orders of many of the cases in recent weeks are not available on the courts portal, as seen by The Indian Express.
The development also coincided with a letter written by the Bar Council of Punjab and Haryana to the HC against the High Court’s decision to continue with minimal functioning of courts in the region till July.
Advocate Karanjit Singh, Chairman of the statutory body — which represents the lawyers body of the region comprising Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh, in the letter said the hearing of only extreme urgent cases is “almost denial of justice” and asked the court to clarify which type of cases fall in the urgent category, adding many anticipatory bail pleas filed in past one month haven’t been considered urgent.
A Bar Council committee headed by advocate Lekh Raj Sharma has suggested that functioning of courts can be started with minimum footfall and limited numbers of advocates can be permitted to appear in courts without physical presence of the litigants. The suggestion was made in a letter sent to the HC by the Bar Council.
Meanwhile in Zaidi’s case, the HC could not take up the bail plea in absence of the lower court order, and the case will now be heard on Wednesday. The trial court order dated May 1 was uploaded on the ecourts portal on Monday afternoon after the HC hearing.
On March 30, the HC had also ordered the District and Sessions Judges in the state of Punjab and Haryana and UT Chandigarh to provide the contact numbers and emails of the CJMs and duty magistrates on their official websites, so that the compliance of the orders granting bail could be made. The lower courts had also been directed to upload the orders passed by them.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines