The Delhi High Court Friday decided to extend till April 3 the restrictions on its functioning to contain the spread of coronavirus.
The decision, taken by an eight-judge committee headed by Chief Justice D N Patel, was communicated in a notification issued by the high court's Registrar General.
The notification, which indicates the judges who would be conducting proceedings during the period of restricted functioning, said: "The Administrative and General Supervision Committee has resolved that in order to combat the impending threat of coronavirus, the functioning of this court continues to stand restricted till April 3."
The high court had on March 13 decided to restrict its functioning from March 16 in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thereafter, on March 16 it decided that the restricted functioning would continue till March 20.
On Friday, by a fresh notification it extended the restriction till April 3.
The notification further said that on March 23, 25, 27, 30 and April 1, four division benches, four single judge benches for civil jurisdiction and three single judge benches each for criminal and original jurisdiction would hear "only urgent matters".
On March 24, 26, 31 and April 3, three division benches, three single judge benches for civil jurisdiction and three single judge benches each for criminal and original jurisdiction would hear "only urgent matters".
In the normal course, a total of 26 benches sit for hearing all the matters.
With the coronavirus cases reaching 223 nationwide, claiming 4 lives, several states have taken steps to restrict or close certain public places so as to check its spread. Globally, over 10,000 people have died in the pandemic that swept from China throughout the world, forcing the confinement of tens of millions in their homes.
All the courts in the national capital have also curtailed the functioning and restricting the entry of people on their premises.
The high court said all the pending matters, listed from March 23 to April 3, before the court as well as the registrars or joint registrars would be adjourned to April 20 to 30, respectively.
The urgent matters to be listed on the following day shall be determined by the designated joint registrars (JR) and it can be mentioned before the JR (judicial) from 10:30 AM to 12 PM everyday till April 3.
"To further decongest court rooms and registry, only one advocate per party shall be permitted entry in the court rooms and registry. This restriction shall not apply to senior advocates, who may appear before the court with a single briefing counsel," the notification said.
The high court also issued directions for combating spread of COVID-19 in the district courts of the national capital.
It said that as functioning of the district courts stood substantially restricted, "there was no requirement for the entire workforce of court officials to report for duty on a daily basis".
It directed the respective District and Sessions Judges and Principal Judges (Family Courts) to prepare a staff roster after assessing the requirements of each district court "to ensure that all officials, posted in branches, report for duty on a proportionate rotational basis and that their footfall is reduced to one third".
"Since, majority of the cases are being adjourned till March 31 a mechanism be created in each jurisdiction by the District and Sessions Judges and Principal Judges (Family Courts) so that one judicial officer takes up the matters of his own court and upto of two more courts of similar jurisdiction and remains available during the working hours for taking up fresh urgent matters of such courts," the high court has said in a separate notification issued in respect of district courts.
The District and Sessions Judge/In-charge of the concerned court complexes have been directed to ensure that the court building is sanitized on a daily basis.
"All district court complexes should be vacated by 5.00 p.m. on working day and handed over to the sanitization staff for deep/thorough cleaning and shall remain closed till the next morning," the notification said.
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