Keeping in view the alarming surge in new COVID variant Omicron infection cases in the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, the Chief Justice has issued directions for hearing of cases by the High Court as well as Subordinate Courts through virtual mode.
As per the order issued by Jawad Ahmed, Registrar General on the directions of the Chief Justice, ordinarily the hearing of cases listed before a Bench shall be through virtual mode, however, physical hearing in respect of any listed matter will be at the discretion of the Bench concerned subject to the satisfaction of the Bench regarding urgency involved in such matter and thereafter such matter can be taken up for physical hearing on the date fixed by the Bench.
“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 and provide the same to the advocates/litigants by making it available on the official website of the High Court or through any appropriate electronic mode”, the order said, adding “filing of cases shall be in accordance with the Electronic Filing (e-Filing) in the High Court of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh and in Subordinate Courts and Tribunals of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh, Rules, 2021 either through e-Filing portal of the High Court or through e-mail address of the respective filing counters of the High Court”.
According to the order, the entry of litigants and public into the court premises from the very outer gate shall be strictly prohibited. Similarly, the 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/courts, the officials shall be permitted to function in batches with 50 percent reduction on rotation basis.
Moreover, the Registrars Judicial of both wings of the High Court shall ensure sanitization of the entire High Court Complex on every Saturday and Sunday and the staff on duty and the counsel, if any permitted for physical hearing, shall take necessary precautions, ensure physical distancing, wearing of mask and observance of SOPs and guidelines issued by the respective Governments from time to time.
“On account of virtual hearing, entry of lawyers in the High Court premises is not required unless any advocate is permitted for physical hearing in any extremely urgent matter”, the order said, adding “in the District and Subordinate Courts and Tribunals in UTs of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh the Presiding Officers shall hear the cases through virtual mode from their respective court rooms/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 regarding urgency involved in such matter and thereafter such matter can be taken up for physical hearing on the date fixed by the Presiding Officer. The filing of cases shall be in accordance with the Electronic Filing (e-Filing) in the High Court of Jammu & Kashmir and and in Subordinate Courts and Tribunals of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh, Rules, 2021.
Other directions in respect of both the wings of the High Court will also be applicable in respect of District and Subordinate Courts and Tribunals.