The Patna High Court has decided to start functioning in physical mode purely on 'Experimental basis' for 'Two weeks' i.e., from 4.1.2021 till 15.1.2021 while observing the social distancing norms.
The Notice to this effect was issued by the Registrar General of the High Court by an order of the Chief Justice on Tuesday (29th December).
The Notice states,
"Due to COVID-19 pandemic, initially a Procedure for e-mentioning, e-filing, listing uploading and hearing of matters through video conferencing was adopted. Thereafter studio-based courts were set up inside the courtrooms providing access to stakeholders who did not have the technological infrastructure to provide continued access to justice for all. Thus, courts were functioning through both modes, i.e. virtual as well as physical."
It further states that now the competent authority has decided that the Court will start functioning in physical mode purely on "experimental basis" for "two weeks" i.e., from 4.1.2021 till 15.1.2021.
The Physical presence of all the stakeholders within the Court premises shall be guided by the general instructions contained in the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) adopted for the functioning of the Court.
Importantly, while the Criminal Matters will be heard on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, the Civil Matters will be heard on Thursday.
In order to minimize the footfall, only 25 cases would be listed before each Bench; however, Benches may take up other cases as per convenience of all stake holders in the matter through virtual mode in the session other than the session of physical mode.
Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)
The SOP provides, inter alia, that the arguing counsel/ assistant Lawyer/registered clerk/parties, who have been issued E-passes, shall be permitted to enter the Court premises through the designated gates, after subjecting themselves to the thermal and such other scanning devices as may be installed for detecting body temperature, infection status, etc. as also after verification of their ID Cards.
The E-pass could be generated by the Advocates, who have to appear in the Court for hearing, from the website of Patna High Court by providing details of the case.
The E-Pass would be valid only for the particular day and time slot for which it is issued.
People displaying symptoms of flu, fever, cough etc. shall not be permitted entry inside the Court premises.
The SOP also states that once entry is permitted to any arguing counsel/ assistant Lawyer/registered clerk, for any such case listed for the day, no other person, for the same case and for the same party, shall be permitted to enter inside the Court premises.
The Seats in each Court Room shall be limited to bare minimum and entry in the Court shall be permitted to those Advocates/Party-in-person whose matter is called out for hearing and also to such Advocates, whose item is immediate next, subject to availability of space.
The remaining Advocates will have to wait in the Designated Area/ Waiting Hall for their turn maintaining social distance.
The SOP states that the Barrister Association, Lawyers Association, Advocates Association, all other associations, Advocate Library and Canteens located in the High Court premises shall remain closed until further orders.
Read HC Notice