Courts in J&K, Ladakh to resume physical hearings from July 5

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Only vaccinated lawyers, witnesses to be allowed; Litigants entry continues to be barred

Srinagar: The High Court on Wednesday ordered resumption of physical hearings in its Srinagar and Jammu wings as well as in district and subordinate courts besides tribunals in J&K and Ladakh from July 5.

“Keeping in view the latest SOPs of the Government of India and Government of Jammu & Kashmir relating to relaxation in restrictions regarding containment of COVID- 19 and also the considerable decline in daily number of COVID- 19 cases …, the physical hearing of the cases in the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir as well as in the District and Subordinate Courts and Tribunals in Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh shall resume with effect from 05.07.2021,” reads an order issued by Registrar General Jawad Ahmad. Till then the virtual hearing has been extended.

Meanwhile, in order to ensure that there is no complacency against the spread of COVID-19 infection, the High Court has ordered strict observance of all latest SOPs of the Central and J&K Government regarding gathering at public places.

“With effect from (July 5), advocates shall be allowed entry into the Court premises. However, (they) shall themselves restrict their entry in a manner that only those advocates enter the Court building on a given day whose cases are listed on that day before any of the Bench/Court.”

On entry into the Court building, advocates shall strictly maintain the social distancing SOPs while waiting for hearing of their cases, reads the order, a copy of which lies with GNS. “They shall not huddle either in the well or in the gallery outside the Court Rooms. As and when their cases are finished they shall make an endeavour to leave the court premises at once.”

Also, only those advocates, staff members and any other stakeholder will be permitted entry in the court premises who have been vaccinated.

“Entry of Clerks and Agents of the advocates into the Court rooms shall continue to be prohibited for the time being.”

Entry of witness(s) and accused person(s) shall be permitted in District and Subordinate Courts subject to strict compliance of latest SOPs pertaining to the containment of Covid- 19 and vaccination, the order said. “Entry of litigants and public into the Court premises from the very outer gate shall continue to be prohibited.”

However, if any litigant on any reasonable ground was compelled to argue his case personally, he shall be allowed entry into the Court premises subject to the condition that he makes an application at least two days prior to the date of hearing through e-mail to the Registrar Judicial/Presiding Officer of the Court disclosing such compelling reasons and seeking permission in that regard.

“If in a given case one of the party appearing through Advocate insists for virtual hearing for any reason of his inability to appear physically, the Court may, if necessary, permit him/her to argue through virtual mode and the other party may present his/her case physically or the matter may be adjourned with consent of the parties provided that advance notice for such virtual hearing is given to the concerned Bench Secretary at least a day before.”