The Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed all the District and Sessions Judges across the states of Punjab, Haryana and UT of Chandigarh to identify one room in the Court premises which can be used to produce the accused for remand.
"Identify one dedicated room/ Court room, in consultation with the Health and administrative authorities, in the respective Judicial Complex at the District level and the Sub Divisional(s) level, where the accused can be produced for 1st remand," a letter issued by the Registrar General of the HC states.
The direction has been made in the backdrop of a PIL filed by practicing Advocate of the High Court, Anuj Bansal, seeking implementation of the video conferencing guidelines issued by the High Court on July 7, 2018.
As per guideline number 1.4 contained therein:
"Video conferencing facilities can be used in all matters including remands, bail applications and in civil and criminal trials where a witness is located intrastate, interstate, or overseas. However, these guidelines will not apply to proceedings under section 164 of Cr.P.C."
The same becomes relevant in context to the incumbent Covid crisis and gradual shift from open court proceedings to Virtual hearings.
While disposing of the PIL on July 14, a division comprised of Chief Justice RS Jha and Justice Arun Palli ordered the state Governments to "examine the issue and thereafter, if necessary or in case some instance of violation is found, to take necessary action and steps."
In the interregnum, the Registrar General has addressed a letter to all the Sessions Divisions requesting them to take adequate safety measures like glass/ other see through partition, regular sanitization of the room, etc. in consultation with the authorities to ensure that in the event of an accused testing positive subsequently, there may not be any requirement to quarantine the Judicial Officers, staff, family members, etc.
Recently, the Kerala High Court had instructed that production of an accused before the Magistrates and Special Judges in the state will be done via electronic means only, to prevent the spread of Covid infection in the court premises.
It had directed the State Police Chief to ensure that an accused is produced before the Magistrates through electronic video linkage facility, even where the production is for the first time.
Read HC Order