In the view of sharply rising novel coronavirus cases, Bombay High Court in another notification issued on Friday has instructed District and Sessions Courts, and subordinate courts in Mumbai, Thane, Pune, Nagpur and Ahmednagar in Maharashtra to not insist on the presence of the parties unless it is unavoidable.
The notification read: “All the District and Sessions Judges and Principal Judges, would take appropriate measures to regulate the entry of the litigants and the general public in the Court Complex to avoid crowding.”
The court has also asked the lawyers to advise their clients not to visit the court unless their presence is directed by it or is unavoidable.
Bombay High Court has specifically instructed the subordinate courts that “no adverse/default orders be passed in matters where parties are found to be absent” till the epidemic of coronavirus persists. The adjournments, if sought in a case, should be accommodated.
IN CASE OF CRIMINAL MATTERS
The notification says that request for exemption from personal appearance of the accused should be considered favourably. Instead of the physical production of under trial prisoners from jails, the facility of video conferencing should be availed.
Unnecessary crowding in the jails should be curtailed and appropriate steps in this regard be taken by all the District and Sessions Judges in consultation with the prison authorities.
IN CASE OF CIVIL MATTERS
The notification said, “Wherever possible, service of local commissioner be availed for the purposes of the recording of evidence, after obtaining the consent of both the parties. In final argument matters, as far as possible, written submissions be called upon to be submitted in the court and the time for oral arguments be reduced to the extent possible.”
The court administration has asked to make sure hand sanitizers are available in each court complexes for the visitors as well as the staff, particularly for those manning windows where there is constant public dealing.
Housekeeping staff has been asked to ensure that the highest level of hygiene is maintained in the court complex and disinfectants are sprayed on a regular basis.
The president and general secretary of each district court bar associations may issue necessary directions in order to ensure that there is no crowding in the court complex including the lawyers’ chambers. Bar would also ensure that interns are not permitted in the court complex till the danger of the coronavirus subsides. No function or election or any other event would be permitted till further orders, says the notification.
Prior to this notification, the Bombay High Court had issued a notification which said that the court would hear only urgent matters.