If hygiene advisories are not met, CJ may stop potential physical functioning of Court: Calcutta HC issues post-lockdown guidelines
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If hygiene advisories are not met, CJ may stop potential physical functioning of Court: Calcutta HC issues post-lockdown guidelines

The High Court has come up with definite combination of Benches and other modalities to ensure smooth functioning.

Aishwarya Iyer

The Calcutta High Court has issued guidelines for its potential functioning post the COVID-19 lockdown, while stating that it may not be feasible to resume normal Court work even at a reduced level unless certain conditions are met.

The High Court has stated,

"In the event, physical functioning of the Court resumes but it is observed that the distancing and health and hygiene advisories are not been met, the Chief Justice may be constrained to stop the physical functioning of Court."
Calcutta High Court

It has been proposed that 27 Single and Division Benches would be put together, which would work alternatively to ensure much less footfall in the Court premises.

In order to ensure certainty of matters and to limit the need for lawyers to stay in Court for the entire day, every Bench will indicate a cluster of four to six matters and only those would be taken up at allotted times. It is stated in this regard that,

"If such matters are exhausted, other matters scheduled later in that day will not be taken up during such time. If the matters are not exhausted during the allocated time, they will stand adjourned till another day, but will not spill over into the times allotted for other matters on that particular day."
Calcutta High Court

Apart from the judges on the Bench, only three court staff and no more than six lawyers and litigants will be allowed entry into any courtroom at any given point of time, the guidelines envision.

"If a particular matter requires more lawyers, such matter will stand adjourned unless the parties agree otherwise without compromising on the number of persons being permitted entry into a particular Court room."

Calcutta High Court

With regard to Lawazima Court, a list of limited number of matters would be published with respective times so as to avoid crowding.

As far as mentioning of matters is concerned, it will be done only by way of video conference between 4.30-5 pm on every working day, restricted to six or seven courts at a time. Also, mentioning schedules pertaining to respective Benches will be announced in advance on the High Court website for the convenience of all concerned.

Mentioning before the individual Benches will resume a week before physical functioning of Court resumes, so that the list of matters can be arranged accordingly, based on the urgency of the matters.

The High Court has also issued certain additional guidelines which include:

  • Only two of the entry gates to the High Court, Main Building will be open, and the Judges’ Gate will remain open only for Judges, Registrars, drivers, orderlies and protocol personnel.

  • PWD to mark circles on the corridors for persons to stand in the corridors

  • No more than 25 per cent of the sitting capacity in any library room will be allowed at any given point of time. The same should be monitored by the libraries and members of the Bar.

  • No more than three persons to be allowed in smaller lifts and not more than five persons will be allowed in the bigger lifts at a time.

  • The travellator connecting to the Main Building and the Centenary Building will be functional on an experimental basis as long as the two-step gap norm is maintained.

  • Queuing to be followed inside designated circles at the filing counters, the oath commissioners’ office and certified copy sections.

  • Applications for obtaining certified copy to be made online as per the information available on the High Court website.

  • Canteens and refreshment services in the High Court premises will not resume.

Additionally, everyone has been asked to abide by the advisories and directives issued by the Central and state governments regarding hygiene, social distancing etc.

"A degree of responsibility and dignity has to be inculcated to adhere to a rational code of conduct for the benefit of individuals and the society at large."
Calcutta High Court

[Read the Guidelines here]

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