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Physical hearing to resume in courts across J&K, Ladakh from Feb 14

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Srinagar: Physical hearing with certain restrictions would resume in courts across Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh from February 14, Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal said on Wednesday as he issued fresh guidelines amid gradual improvement in the COVID-19 situation.

However, the Chief Justice of the High Court of J&K and Ladakh said the entry of litigants, clerks and agents of advocates into courtrooms shall remain prohibited for the time being, while judicial custody remands shall be given only through video conference as far as permissible.

In an order issued on Wednesday evening, Justice Mithal said the High Court order of June 30, 2020 stand revived and the hearing of cases listed before a bench in the high court is permitted through physical mode also with the restriction that in no courtroom more than 10 advocates would be allowed at a time.

“The guidelines will come into effect from February 14,” the order said.

It said the district and subordinate courts and tribunals in UTs of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh would also start functioning through physical mode.

“Entry of advocates into the courtrooms before district and subordinate courts and tribunals shall be restricted to five advocates only at a given time,” the order said.

It said the guidelines and protocols for prevention of COVID-19 contagion including wearing of masks, frequent use of hand sanitiser and maintaining safe distancing norms are mandatory for all the entrants into the court premises.

“Only those advocates whose cases are listed in the courts and who are fully vaccinated shall be allowed entry in the courtrooms.

“Entry of witnesses, accused only shall be permitted in district and subordinate courts and tribunals provided they are fully vaccinated and subject to strict compliance of SOPs pertaining to the containment of COVID-19 infection,” the order said.

The chief justice said the entry in the district and subordinate courts and tribunals would be permitted to only fully vaccinated people from the outer gate of the court complex.

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