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Pursuant the Delhi High Court’s letter, Chairman, Bar Council of Delhi, KC Mittal has recommended certain steps that may be incorporated in the High court’s "Graded Action Plan" to restore normal functioning of courts after lockdown is lifted.
The recommendations, which form part of the letter addressed to the High Court, are as follows:
- High Court should have separate entry and exit gates which must be equipped with COVID testing instruments and sanitization tunnels.
- Court functioning can start from different complexes by maintaining a considerable distance between the court halls.
- Chairs should be kept at distance in the court room and there should be 5-6 feet distance between Judges and lawyers.
- The timing of hearing of each case should be fixed and their must be a time gap of 2-3 mins in hearing of next matter so that the concerned advocate can come inside the court hall.
- Fewer cases should be marked to each Judge.
- Only two advocates for each party may be allowed in the same manner as a Senior Advocate appears along with the briefing counsel. Cases where number of parties are more, only one Advocate may be allowed for each party.
- The Judges hearing the case should be provided glass shield.
- An Advocate whose case is not listed should not be allowed entry in the Court Halls.
- Litigant entry in the Court Hall should not be allowed but there must be provision for video recording and upon request of the litigant.
- Provision for live proceedings of the Court hearing must be made at the earliest.
- Canteen may remain closed for in-house sitting for the time being.
- Lawyers may be allowed to have access to their chambers in all Court complexes in a limited manner.
- Fixed time for each urgent matters on the basis of likely irreparable injury to one's constitutional rights. Other matters be adjourned for three months.
- Court corridors may be painted with social-distancing markings for walking.
- Fresh matters be only limited to 10 each court and pending urgent matters be listed in same ratio in each court.
- Unless metro and other public transport is restored, all the advocates cannot be expected to resume work.
- Identity cards issued by the Bar Council of Delhi may be deemed to be Curfew Pass and no separate pass be made compulsory.
- Sufficient time may be granted for filing matters after lockdown is lifted.
- An ambulence with complete infrastructure to tackle COVID-19 emergencies be made available during working hours.
Recommendations with respect to bail matters are as follows:
- Whenever an application for bail is filed before the court of metropolitan magistrate, status report is required to be filed by the State. The attested copy of such status report may mandatorily be issued to the counsel for the Petitioner.
- Whenever an application for bail is heard by the court of Additional District & Sessions judge, the copy of the status report so filed by the prosecutor must be supplied to the counsel for counsel for the Petitioner.
- When an application for bail is filed before the High Court of Delhi, as filing of FIR is mandatory, filing of such status report should also be made mandatory.
- Whenever an application for bail is heard by the High Court, the same should be decided on the same day, on the basis of such status report so filed before the Additional District Judge.
- In case, only when there is a substantial delay in filing the bail application before the High Court and the court feels that further status report is necessary, only in that situation, further status report may be asked for, otherwise the application should be decided on the same day.
The Bar Council of Delhi has emphasised that if regular hearing is not possible, adequate protection measures may be introduced to hold few courts at least, by restricting and regulating the entry of advocates.
No doubt, sitting home idle is a compulsion, but more than that, is injustice to the litigants and we need to utilise our resources so that more cases are taken up without compromising with the goal to defeat the Corona Virus, Bar Council of Delhi has asserted.