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Following various meetings on the issue, the Madras High Court has issued a series of notifications intimating that it would be restricting its functioning from March 18 onwards to minimise the risk of spreading the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
It has been decided that the Final Hearing Cause List shall remain suspended for three weeks and that only urgent matters on would be taken up on mentioning.
As far as the High Court is concerned, the instructions issued include the following:
No gate passes would be issued to litigants and visitors, unless it is allowed on judicial discretion for compelling reasons to appear or file an affidavit before the Court.
Lawyers and their clerks are to inform litigants that they need not visit the High Court unless their presence is directed by the Court or is unavoidable for the next three weeks.
Only those lawyers who have their cases listed or who require to make an urgent mention may visit the High Court. They are requested to leave as soon as their work is over. Clerks and other staff are also advised accordingly.
All Bar Associations are requested to close their Bar rooms and suspend all activities involving mass gatherings for at least three weeks.
Canteens and food stalls have been advised to close down completely for three weeks.
Stationary stalls, photostat stalls etc. are to operate only for two hours from 10.30 am to 12.30 pm.
The entry of outside vendors are completely banned till further orders
Lawyers and litigants and other visitors are to leave the court premises by 5 pm.
Mediation and Arbitration centres shall stand closed for three weeks.
Similarly, regular activities of Legal Services Authorities would also stand suspended. Legal services in cases requiring urgent legal help may be provided.
Arrangements are to be made for the presence of para medical and medical staff on the High Court premises. Thermal imaging devices and temperature guns are to be used to check if that no person with symptoms of the virus enters court.
Court staff are also to be scanned daily for such symptoms.
Sanitisation facilities would be extended.
A separate notification concerning the safety measures to be undertaken by subordinate courts in the State include those concerning screening of persons for symptoms, disinfection and sanitisation measures, closure of eateries, canteens etc., presence of medical personnel, dispensing with avoidable physical presence of parties, accommodating requests for adjournment, encouraging the use of video conferencing facilities etc.