As the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases across India has risen to 115, the Delhi High Court on Monday said it would issue more directions about precautions to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The court observed this when an advocate mentioned before a bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar that the photocopy shops and cash counters in the complex should accept also digital payments.
Advocate and BJP leader Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay said the photocopy shops and the cash counters in the high court premises accept only cash payments and they should also accept digital payments as a precaution to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
To this, the bench said, “Don’t worry! We will be issuing more directions in this regard.” Litigants and lawyers have to deposit court fees and stamp fees, in cash, at these counters.
Only urgent matters are being heard and dates are being given in the rest of the cases.
The high court had on Friday decided to hear only urgent matters from March 16 in the wake of coronavirus scare in the country and not insist on personal appearance of parties unless it is indispensable.
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The decision was taken at an emergency meeting of the high courts eight-judge Administrative and General Supervision Committee headed by Chief Justice D N Patel and the president and honorary secretary of the Delhi High Court Bar Association (DHCBA) “to contain the spread of pandemic coronavirus”.
It was decided that all possible preventive and remedial measures be taken to combat the impending threat of COVID-19, including making sanitisers available in the courts for visitors and staff, “particularly those manning windows where there is constant public dealing”.
Subsequent to the meeting, an advisory was issued by the high court in which it said that its functioning from March 16 shall be restricted to urgent matters and “the court master shall give dates in routine matters before the court assembles”.
In the meeting, it was also decided that members of the bar may not issue visitors pass and the high court will not insist on the personal appearance of the parties unless it is indispensable.
The high court had also issued a separate advisory for regulating entry of litigants in all the district courts in the national capital. “Thermal scanners (non-touch) may be procured at the earliest, handlers be trained and they be put to use at the existing check points,” the advisory said.
“Till the present situation persists, no adverse/default orders be passed in matters where parties are found to be absent,” the advisory further said.
It said that in criminal matters, trial courts should consider “favourably” the request for exemption from personal appearance of the accused.
“The facility of video conferencing be put to optimum use for the purpose of recording of evidence,” the advisory said, adding, “Instead of physical production of undertrial prisoners (UTPs) from jails, facility of video conferencing be availed.”
It said in civil matters, wherever possible, service of local commissioners be availed for the purpose of recording of evidence after obtaining consent of both the parties. It said that unnecessary crowding in the lock up in court premises be curtailed and appropriate steps be taken in this regard in consultation with the jail authorities.
The advisory said that judge in-charge of the trial courts shall ensure that medical dispensaries in the court complex are “well equipped to tackle the present emergent situation”.
It said that sanitisers be made available in the courts for visitors, staffs “particularly those manning windows where there is constant public dealing”.
The advisory said that district court bar association may also issue necessary directions to ensure that there is no crowding in the court complexes.
It said that judge in-charge of mediation centre of all the district court complexes would also ensure that mediation proceedings are held only in cases that are of urgent nature.