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Kerala HC Issues Protocol For Functioning Of Subordinate Courts Post Lockdown [Read Advisory]

16 May 2020 11:00 AM GMT
Kerala HC Issues Protocol For Functioning Of Subordinate Courts Post Lockdown [Read Advisory]
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The Kerala High Court has issued an advisory, laying down the protocol for functioning of Subordinate Courts in the state from May 18, 2020, i.e. post lockdown.

On Friday, the High Court had announced that it will re-open, with full strength, from may 18 onwards, subject to Government restrictions.

The Court has now issued the following advisory for all the subordinate courts:

  • A maximum of 10 persons, including the Presiding Officer will be present in a Court hall. Court may give time slots for each case to be taken up on a day or split the posting into morning and afternoon sessions;
  • Advocates, parties and witnesses concerning the case shall alone be permitted to be present inside the Court hall;
  • Number of Advocates, clerks, parties and witnesses, etc. present in the Court compound shall be the minimum. Assistance of local Bar Associations may be taken for the same.
  • Cause list may be published in the website of the District Court and cases where presence of Advocates alone is required for the progress of the proceedings and disposal may be given preference in the daily cause list.
  • No coercive steps shall be taken/ exparte orders passed against any party or witness if the court is convinced that person or his/her counsel was unable to attend the Court due to travel restrictions imposed for containment of COVID-19.
  • Wherever possible, especially for bail applications, proceedings shall be resorted to through video-conferencing following the prescribed guidelines.
  • In Red Zones and Hotspots, procedure being followed during the period of lockdown shall be continued.
  • Principal District Judge shall immediately suspend functioning of the Court, if there is any problem in implementing the Advisories. The same shall be conveyed to the High Court and thereafter, functioning will be restored only after obtaining direction of the High Court.
  • The Courts shall give priority to 5+ year old cases, and time bound cases ordered by the Higher Courts.

Instructions for preparation of Cause List:

  • Every Court shall prepare a "restricted cause list" for all working days in a week in the preceding week itself, limiting for each day the minimum number of cases to be considered in open Court.
  • The Cause List so prepared shall be communicated at least on the last working day of the preceding week to the local Bar association/s for circulation and information and it shall be published in the notice board.
  • All cases posted to each day except those included in the cause list shall be adjourned by notification and the notification shall be published along with the cause list. Any such case may be taken up if the court is convinced of the urgency. If so taken up, notice shall be given to all the parties.
  • Courts shall conduct trials of cases listed for the day, hearing of petitions or appeals etc., after allotting specific time slots for each case considering the convenience of both sides. Alternatively, cases may be distributed in two sessions; morning and afternoon.

For Civil Courts, it is directed that:

  • No Court shall insist on the personal appearance of the parties in Court or for deciding whether the case should be referred to ADR. The question of reference may be decided on the submissions of the counsel for both sides.
  • Cases included in the special list for trial and other cases essentially to be taken up on the day alone shall be included in the cause list.
  • Fresh cases where urgent interim reliefs are sought for, shall also be thus considered every day at a specific time.
  • In cases where a Commissioner has been appointed for recording evidence, the Commissioner shall be specifically instructed to comply with the physical distancing norms while recording evidence. However, considering the exigency, Courts may only sparingly appoint a Commissioner for recording evidence.

For Criminal Courts it is directed that:

  • Criminal Courts shall not insist on the personal appearance of accused/parties except in cases where their presence is essential for examination of witnesses or unavoidable for proceeding further with the case.
  • Cases specifically scheduled for framing of charge, examination of witnesses, 313 examination, final hearing and other cases essentially to be taken up on the day alone shall be included in the cause list.
  • Petty cases can be taken up for disposal wherever personal appearance is not required. Follow the procedure in the Cr.PC.
  • When there are more accused than one in a case, necessary arrangements shall be made for maintaining physical distancing between the accused while in the dock.
  • If summons to a large number of witnesses are already issued, necessary intimation shall be given to the prosecuting agency to regulate the presence of witness as per the directions given above.
  • Remand extension of undertrial prisoners, except where police custody is to be given or presence of the accused is essential for the purpose of trial, shall be done through video linkage as per the directions in this regard.

Instructions for Filing:

  • Use of paper shall be minimized and it will be ensures that papers used in unavoidable situations are through only "limited hands".
  • If number of cases filed in any Court/complex is more, the District Judge shall devise a scheme for virtual queue. Advocates/parties may request by e-mail for time slots. Time slot for filing each case shall be allotted ensuring that there is not crowding in the officer premises. Such time slot pattern shall be followed for the return of defective matters and re-presentation.
  • For the presentation of papers relating to the cases filed during the period of lock down through e-mail, separate counter may be provided, where also a scheme of providing time slot may be followed.
  • Wherever possible, judicial service centres may be used as counters for filing, return of defective matters and re- presentation.

Click Here To Download Advisory

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