To prevent the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19), Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Monday issued a circular directing sanitization of the district and other subordinate court buildings and premises in J&K and Ladakh on a daily basis.

According to the circular, Judicial Officers shall take all necessary measures to sanitize the Court buildings and premises on a daily basis. Further, Principal District Judges shall ensure that sanitizers are available in their respective districts for the visitors as well as the staff particularly those manning windows (filing counters, enquiries, front-offices) where there is constant public dealing.

Crowding in the Courts shall be avoided and Thermal Scanners (non-touch) be procured at the earliest and the same be put to use at the existing checkpoints of the Court Complexes, the circular reads.

The circular also says that the District Bar Associations and Advocates be asked to advise the litigants not to visit the Courts unless their presence has been directed by the Court. The Courts shall not insist upon the personal presence of the parties unless it is absolutely necessary.

In criminal matters, request for exemption from personal appearance of accused be considered liberally.

Special Traffic Magistrates shall deal with only urgent matters pertaining to release of seized vehicles and defer all other routine matters for the present, the circular adds.

Unnecessary crowding in the Lock-up be curtailed and appropriate steps in this regard be taken by all the Principal District and Sessions Judges in consultation with the prison authorities.

It also says that for the recording of evidence, grant of remand to the accused/under trials, production of under trial prisoners, the facility of video conferencing be put to use as far as it is possible to do so.

Lok Adalats, Legal Services Programmes and Mediation Programmes shall not be held till further orders.

In cases of absence of parties appearing in person or in cases of non-production of witnesses, the passing of adverse orders shall be avoided.

The circular reads that in final argument matters, as far as possible, written submissions be obtained from the parties/their counsels so as to minimize the time for oral arguments.

In civil matters, wherever possible, service of local commissioner be availed of for the purposes of the recording of evidence, after obtaining the consent of both the parties.

It also directs for setting up a helpline in every District and Muffasil Court Complex for updating the litigants/lawyers about their cases and answering queries.

A dedicated team (comprising a Senior Judicial Officer and a Senior Ministerial Staff) be constituted in each District Court Complex for taking stock of the situation on a day-to-day basis and to take appropriate remedial steps, the circular reads.

Further, canteens and the Bar rooms will not remain operational till further orders.


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