No physical hearing in courts of J&K, Ladakh UTs till Apr 18

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JAMMU: Keeping in view sudden surge in COVID-19 infection cases in the Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh, Chief Justice of Common High Court Justice Pankaj Mithal has kept in abeyance the order dated 03.02.2021 regarding resumption of physical hearing of cases for the time being.

Now, the hearing of cases in the High Court of Jammu & Kashmir as well as in the District and Subordinate Courts and Tribunals in both the UTs will be conducted through Virtual Mode.

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According the order issued by Chief Justice, the entry of litigants and public into the High Court premises from the very outer gate shall continue to be prohibited. “In addition to virtual hearing, the matters may also be taken up for physical hearing, where the counsel for both the parties give their consent for such physical hearing and if counsel for either party declines or fails to give such consent in that event the roster bench may consider the request of other counsel for physical hearing”, the Chief Justice said.

The identification of cases for physical hearing will be done by the concerned Registrar Judicial a day before the date of listing. The advocates concerned in a particular case, who intend to get their case listed for physical hearing, shall give written consent for physical appearance and provide the requisite detail of the case to the concerned Registrar Judicial through e-mail at least two days before the date of listing.

The Registrar Judicial concerned, then, will provide list of such counsel whose cases are listed for physical hearing, well in time to the Incharge Security at the main gate to facilitate entry of such counsel.

In order to decongest the sections/offices/courts, the officials will be permitted to function in batches with 25 percent reduction on rotation basis. The roster in this regard will be formulated by the Registrar Judicial of the concerned wing. The officials, who as per the roster are not on duty in the office, will not leave the station and remain available on telephone and electronic means of communication at all times.

As per the order, the staff on duty and the counsel appearing physically in court will take necessary precautions, ensure physical distancing, wearing of mask and observance of SOPs and guidelines issued by the respective Governments from time to time.

As far as District and Subordinate Courts and Tribunals in UTs of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh are concerned, the entry of litigants and public into the court premises from the very outer gate will continue to be prohibited.

Principal District and Sessions Judges, taking into consideration the urgency involved, apart from virtual hearing, may, where the counsel for the parties/parties in person involved give their consent to appear for physical hearing, permit physical hearing in criminal trials where accused is/are in custody, matrimonial cases, MACT cases, cases under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, compromise matters or in any other matter as deemed desirable in the courts under their jurisdiction.

The courts under the supervision of concerned Principal District and Sessions Judge, shall devise their own mechanism for listing of cases for physical hearing after taking consent of respective counsel, subject to their own assessment of prevailing local conditions including the intensity of COVID-19 infection.

The staff on duty in courts and the counsel appearing physically will take necessary precautions, ensure physical distancing, wearing of mask and observance of SOPs and guidelines issued by the respective Governments from time to time.

In order to decongest the sections/offices of the courts, the officials working in the Subordinate Courts, will be permitted to function in batches with 25 percent reduction on rotation basis. The roster in this regard, shall be formulated by the concerned Presiding Officer of the court.

These directions will remain in force till April 18, 2021 unless reviewed earlier.