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Hear only urgent matters; use video conferencing: Punjab and Haryana HC to subordinate courts

In another significant direction, the High Court has ordered that no under-trial prisoner would be produced before the lower courts till further orders.

By: Express News Service | Chandigarh |
Updated: March 19, 2020 3:03:28 am
coronavirus, Punjab and Haryana high court, Punjab and Haryana high court coronavirus, courts in punjab haryana coronavirus, COVID-19, COVID-19 precautions, indian express, The functioning at the High Court was scaled down on Tuesday following an order on Monday.

Suspending a major part of functioning of courts across Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh in wake of the outbreak of novel coronavirus, the Punjab and Haryana High Court Tuesday ordered all the courts at district and sub-divisional level to take up only bail matters and those requiring urgent stay or injunction, till further orders. The courts have also been asked to make an endeavour to use video conferencing facilities in all the matters.

“The remaining matters shall be adjourned. The parties/advocates/witness seeking adjournment be accommodated. However, the court can proceed to hear any matters in which the learned counsel for both the sides give sufficient reasons for urgency to hear the matter. The matter fixed for final argument (including time bound matters) shall be adjourned to (a) date beyond 31.03.2020,” the order signed by HC’s Registrar General Sanjiv Berry reads.

In another significant direction, the High Court has ordered that no under-trial prisoner would be produced before the lower courts till further orders and asked the courts to utilize the facility of video conferencing for the said purposes including extension of remand. “Sufficient number of duty magistrates shall be deputed by the concerned district & sessions judges(s) for the purpose of remand work, in case the same is not feasible through video conferencing,” reads the order further.

The lower courts have also been asked to consider the exemption applications sympathetically and avoid seeking personal appearance, as far as practicable, to avoid human footfall in the court complex. “Every effort by made by the judicial officers to avoid the crowding in the respective courtroom(s) while avoiding passing of adverse/default orders,” as per the instructions.

The district and sessions judges have also been directed to forthwith coordinate with the district administration, health authorities, and Bar Association for ensuring the cleanliness in the court premises. They have also been asked to request the representatives of respective Bar Associations to avoid crowding in the Bar Rooms and further consider the closure of Bar Rooms and Canteens during this period.

“The advocates be instructed through the representatives of the Bar Association to advise their clients not to visit court complex unless their presence so directed by the court…is unavoidable,” reads the instructions further, adding all the precautionary measures as advised by the government authorities regarding Covid-19 be strictly adhered to and followed in letter and spirit.

The High Court has also ordered that all the unit criteria and action plan applicable to the subordinate courts will remain suspended from March 16 to March 31. The district and sessions judges have also been authorized to take suitable administrative measures at their own level, with prior intimation to the respective administrative judges, to meet out any eventuality with regard to precautionary measures in wake of the spread of coronavirus. The Chandigarh Judicial Academy has also been directed to suspend all its institutional training programmes till further orders.

As per the National Judicial Data Grid, around 639,117 cases are pending before the lower courts in Punjab. There are 884,418 pending cases in Haryana. Chandigarh has 48,940 pending cases before the courts. The functioning at the High Court was scaled down on Tuesday following an order on Monday.

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