Delhi High Court Bar Association suggests plan for restoring operations after lockdown
Courts have to be operational not only to extent of providing "urgent relief" but also to cater to other legal remedies which may be availed by common litigants.
The Delhi High Court Bar Association (DHCBA) has suggested commencement of regular and normal working of courts in a phased manner with compliance of social distancing norms and wearing of masks after lifting of COVID-19 lockdown."We believe that physical court hearings, albeit in a phased manner, have to be commenced with meticulous and scrupulous compliance of social distancing norms, wearing of masks, maintaining the highest standards of sanitisation and hygiene etc," the DHCBA said in a statement.
The suggestions by the DHCBA in a letter to the committee headed by senior High Court judge Justice Hima Kohli include:
Courts have to be operational not only to extent of providing "urgent relief" but also to cater to other legal remedies which may be availed by common litigants. Scope of matters that may be listed includes injunctive reliefs, bail applications, suspension of sentence, objections to arbitration awards, execution petitions, writ petitions of all types, criminal appeals etc.
By notification by the court and judicial orders by Supreme Court, limitation periods have ceased to run during lockdown period, to avoid last minutes rush of filings when courts do reopen, ordinary e-filings/online filings of all matters be allowed, though they might not be heard till normalcy is restored. Petition boxes be used to acknowledge filings made therein.
Till normalcy is restored, litigants and interns shall not be permitted to access court/chamber blocks. Restriction may continue on advocates representing a party.
Lawyers, operating from their chambers and offices need access to chambers to prepare their cases, access their files, records, books and infrastructure. Client conference may be permitted after court hours.
Kiosks and shops inside court complexes may be kept closed. However, cafeterias and kitchens catering to chamber blocks may only be permitted to service lawyers by offering 'take away' options.
Only one entry point may be allowed per courtroom building. Entrants may be subjected to thermal temperature scanning. The option of making entrants pass through sanitisation tunnels may also be explored.
Public conveniences must be maintained with the highest level of sanitisation and for using these social distancing norms can be employed. An adequate number of sanitisers may be provided at various points throughout the court buildings.
Both District Legal Services Authority and Mediation Centres require the physical presence of litigants, the same may not be functional till normalcy is restored. As arbitration proceedings can go on without the presence of litigant, arbitration centre may be functional.
The Bar Association also assured the court of its utmost cooperation.
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