Karnataka HC
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Cornonavirus: PSA Partners requests CJ Oka to direct Courts to only list urgent matters, to not insist personal appearance of litigants

Rintu Mariam Biju

Advocate Praveenkumar Hiremath, Partner of PSA Law Partners has requested the Chief Justice Abhay Sreeniwas Oka of the Karnataka High Court to direct the respective administrative heads of Trial courts and High Court to only list urgent matters and further to not insist on personal appearance of litigants in the wake of the Corona Virus Attack.

In this regard, the letter written by Hiremath reads,

“While it is impossible to shut the Courts for week together, it is possible to direct the concerned administrative heads of the lower courts to list matters which are urgent, not to insist for personal appearance of litigants, postpone matters which mandate for appearance of litigants, evidence stage etc. Doing so, will reduce the number of people physically present in lower Courts and thereby reduce the risk of spread.”

The letter also urges the Court to direct postponement of matters that mandate appearance of parties. If at all any working hours/days are lost in the process, the Court may resort to steps such as additional sitting days during the Court Vacation and constitute special benches for disposal of pending matters, the letter suggests.

This Apart, the letter further states that an urgent meeting has to be convened, calling upon all the judicial officers, advocate bodies and court staff in order to spread awareness regarding the present issue.

The letter further states that with litigants, Court officers and advocates interacting very closely on a daily basis in small Court rooms, the risk of the Corona virus infection is higher than ever.

“Even if there is one infected person in any one of the court rooms, it automatically puts nearly 50 more people including lawyers, co-litigants, court staff and judicial staff at a huge risk to catch the infection.”

Besides the issue of small Court rooms, the letter also points out to the deplorable condition of Court washrooms and Court canteens with no proper liquid hand washes, soaps or sanitizers. This may increase the chances of the various infections spreading including COVID 19 if not dealt with properly, the letter warns.

Suggesting a solution to the issue, Hiremath requested the Court to direct the State Government to provide sanitizers, soaps, liquid hand wash, fumigator to Courts and masks to all advocates, litigants and judicial officers entering Court premises.

On a related note, yesterday, the Karnataka High Court issued a notice exempting its staff from marking Biometric attendance in the wake of the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

[Read the letter here]

Letter to CJ - KA.pdf
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