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Surge in Covid cases: HC extends virtual hearing of cases

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Srinagar: Considering the “alarming” surge in the very infectious Omicron strain of the Coronavirus, J&K High Court has extended the virtual hearing of cases and strictly barred the entry of litigants and general public in the courts till 15th of February.

Sanjeev Gupta, registrar general of J&K High Court in an order said, “in continuation to the earlier directions dated 12.01.2022 and keeping in view the alarming surge in new COVID variant Omicron in the country in general and UTs of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh in particular, the hearing/filing of cases in the High Court of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh as well as in the District and Subordinate Courts and Tribunals shall be only through virtual mode.”

Gupta in his order said that for smooth hearing of the cases through virtual mode, the registrars Judicial of both wings of the High Court in coordination with the CPC e-Courts shall create a link for each Bench in their respective wings. They shall provide the link to the advocates and litigants by making it available on the official website of the High Court or through any appropriate electronic mode, he added.

He ordered that admission of litigants and public into the Court premises from the very outer gate shall be strictly prohibited saying “entry of clerks of the advocates shall be restricted to the chambers of advocates and their entry into the court building and sections/offices shall be prohibited.”

In order to decongest the sections, offices and courts, the order said, the officials shall be permitted to function in batches with 50 percent 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, read the order.

“Staff members with known conditions of co-morbidity and pregnant females shall be exempt from attendance”, it said.

The registrars judicial of both wings of the High Court have been asked to ensure regular sanitization of the entire High Court Complexes, particularly on every Saturday and Sunday.

“The staff on duty shall take necessary precautions, ensure physical distancing, wearing of masks and observance of SOPs and guidelines issued by the Government from time to time”, directed the order.

On account of virtual hearing, entry of lawyers in the High Court premises is not required, it said.

Regarding district and subordinate courts and tribunals in Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh, the registrar general advised the presiding officers of the courts to hear the cases through virtual mode from their respective court rooms and chambers during court hours.

“However, physical hearing in respect of any such listed matter will be at the discretion of the Presiding Officer concerned subject to the satisfaction of the Presiding officer in such matter especially the bail matter, and thereafter such matter can be taken up for physical hearing on the date fixed by the Presiding Officer”, his order said.

It ordered that entry of general public into the court premises from the very outer gate shall be strictly prohibited.

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