Only 20 Hearing Matter To Be Taken Up Each Day For Two Weeks, Advocates Representing Parties Allowed Inside Court Hall, Parties In Person Allowed To Appear Only Through Video Conference.Judges To Wear Mask While On Dias
The Karnataka High Court on Monday issued the Standard Operating Procedure to be followed from June 1 when the Disrict Judiciary resumes limited functioning. Chief Justice Abhay Oka and senior judges of the High Court on Tuesday will address the members of the bar associations across the state and Karnataka State Bar Council, through a web meet seeking their cooperation.
As per the SOP, during the first two weeks, only hearing matters shall be listed, a) Ten cases in the Morning session; b) Ten cases in the Afternoon session. Only hearing oral arguments is permitted in physical presence of Advocates. Endeavour shall be made to hear oral arguments by video conferencing. Only the Advocates representing the parties shall be allowed inside the Court hall during the hearing. No party-in-person shall be permitted to conduct the case by appearing in the Court hall and his/her appearance will only be via video conferencing. Advocates' clerks and litigants shall not be permitted entry into the court-hall.
After two weeks, in addition to the hearing matters, cases may be listed for recording evidence preferably in consultation with concerned advocates. Evidence shall be recorded only by video conferencing, except for official witnesses. However, the Advocates on both sides can remain present to conduct examination-in-chief and crossexamination. The recording shall be as per the Rules framed by the High Court. It shall be ensured that at no point of time, the persons present in the Court Hall including advocates and the Court staff shall exceed twenty (20) in number.
District or Taluka places having a cluster of ten and more Courts, 50% of the Courts shall commence functioning with effect from 01.06.2020 on alternate days and other judicial officers shall be present in the Court and shall attend to non-judicial work. In District or Taluka places where there are less than 10 Courts, but more than one Court, the Principal District and Sessions Judge, after considering the pendency and other exigencies, shall decide the days on which all the Judicial Officers or some of them shall function. Even if a Judicial Officer is not assigned any work on a particular working day, he/she shall remain present in the Court and do administrative work. In Taluka places, where there is only one court, depending upon the pendency in the Court and average filing, the Principal District and Sessions Judge may direct such Judicial Officer to work either for full day or for half a day. The Principal District and Sessions Judge may, in such cases, direct the said Judicial Officer to sit for full day on some of the week days and sit half a day on the other days.
The advocates, staff and the litigants shall scrupulously maintain the norms of social distancing by always maintaining a minimum distance of one metre and shall scrupulously follow the directions and guidelines issued by the High Court from time to time as well as the advisories/SOP issued by the Principal Health Secretary, Government of Karnataka and guidelines issued by the Government of India from time to time.
As far as possible, only 50% of Group-C employees shall be put on duty during the working hours either on shift basis or on rotation basis. The Principal District and Sessions Judges, in case of exigencies, shall have discretion to call additional staff members in Group-C. However, in the Court complexes in green zone and orange zone, all the staff members belonging to Groups-B and D shall be on duty. In the case of the Courts in red zone, the Principal District and Sessions Judges shall have discretion to arrange staffing pattern of Groups-B and D posts in the light of available workload. While doing so, they shall keep it in mind the constraints of the red zone.
The Courts falling within the area declared as containment area by the State Government shall conduct the Court proceedings only through video conferencing adhering to the rules and the guidelines prescribed by the High Court and the Hon'ble Supreme Court.
The entry of litigants and visitors to the Court precincts is completely prohibited. Entry shall be given only to witnesses on showing a copy of the witness summons at the entry point. In case of accused on bail, whose presence is mandatory before the Court, he/she shall be allowed entry only after verification of cause list and identifying documents of the accused. Strict checking shall be carried out at entry point.
No one with symptoms of cough, fever, running nose etc., should be allowed entry in the court complex. Only those who are asymptomatic will be allowed entry. Persons with such symptoms shall be immediately informed to visit the nearest government dispensary or hospital. The unit head shall take steps to sanitize the Court premises once in a week. The first sanitization shall be done before the re-opening of the Court, i.e., on or before 01.06.2020.
The recording of the statement under Section 164 Cr.P.C shall be strictly done through video conferencing as per the guidelines issued by the Karnataka High Court and Supreme Court of India. The production of first remand shall be as far as possible by physically producing the accused. However, by recording reasons, the Magistrate concerned can permit production of accused for the first remand by way of video conferencing. The Courts shall follow the guidelines laid down by the Apex Court and the Video Conferencing Rules framed by this Court.
Bar Associations and canteens/any other outlets located within the court precincts, shall be kept closed until further orders. All Bar Associations shall ensure that before the members of the Bar enter the Court precincts, as a onetime measure, a written 9 declaration be obtained from all the members of the Bar/Advocates' Clerks, indicating that in the recent past, they have not travelled to any other State or any other country or to any other District in the State of Karnataka which is notified as red zone. The declaration shall also state that the Advocate has not visited any of the containment areas in the recent past. The Karnataka State Bar Council shall provide the format of such declaration to all the Bar Associations in the State.
The notaries/oath commissioners shall be provided with separate seating arrangement outside the Court. Under no circumstance, Notaries/Oath Commissioners shall be allowed to function inside the precincts of the Courts. Judges should wear masks while sitting on Dais.
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