Madhya Pradesh High Court orders Continuation of earlier issued Directives for the functioning of Courts in Extended Lockdown

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A circular was issued by Madhya Pradesh High Court to continue the application of guidelines as the lockdown was extended till 03.05.2020. The directives were initially issued on 25.03.2020 and 14.04.2020 owing to the disruption of court activities amid lockdown.

The order shall apply to the Principal Bench of the High Court at Jabalpur and Gwalior.

New Directives

After the announcement of extension of lockdown by the Ministry of Home Affairs, the High Court issue circular ordering extension of guidelines. With the balance of conveniences, the Court had to ensure justice as well as safety to its stakeholders.

Thus, following directives were issued including instructions on video conferencing and e- filling of urgent matters.

  1. Prohibition of entry in High Court: Entry in person to the Principal Bench at Jabalpur, Indore and Gwalior shall remain prohibited. All the administrative and judicial works are to be communicated through Registrar General on their official e-mail address.
  2. Prohibition of entry in Subordinate Court: Entry shall remain prohibited subject to specific permission of the District Judge/ Principal Judge of Family Court. The official communication must be made by the respective heads for wither administrative or judicial work.
  3. Registry officers and staff to be stationed at the respective place of posting: All the officers and staff of the High Court at Jabalpur, Indore and Gwalior benches shall be stationed to carry out urgent duties.
  4. Hearing of matters: Only matters for an urgent hearing shall be resented before the Court with due permission from Hon’ble Chief Justice in case of High Court or District Court and from Principal Judge, Family Court in case of Family Court or Subordinate Court. On receival of such permission, the litigant/lawyer shall be instructed of the venue and mode of communicating to the Court through video conferencing or otherwise.
  5. Staff members to maintain an active mode of communication: All the registry officers and staffs are instructed to keep their mobile phones or any other mode of communication in an active mode for receiving and discharging the duties as assigned by their respective heads.
  6. Adherence to the directives: The directives apprise all the concerned persons to adhere and abide by the directions and guidelines as issued by the Central and State Government. It reprimands against any kind of disobedience or deviation from the aforementioned directions.

In case of any exigency, the High Courts and Subordinate Courts are to function as per aforementioned directives unless any administrative decision being taken by the Chief Justice of the High Court.

Recent Developments

Subsequently, another circular was issued for the stringent application of these directives as the court witnessed overcrowding and violation of social distancing within the premises. The Chief Justice while expressing his concern, has directed to prohibit the physical presence of litigants and advocates in the courtrooms allocated to senior officials and staffs.

Although the advocates, the accused and other necessary parties are permitted entry to the Court, the advocates are now encouraged to conduct video conferencing from their residency and workplaces.

Relevance

As reported on 26.04.2020, an employee at the office of the registry at the Indore bench of High Court was tested positive along with his family. This was the first case of court official being detected positive of the infection. Thus, the Chief Justice has suspended the hearing of cases via video conferencing at the Indore bench with immediate effect. Hence, the following of directives must be of utmost importance to prevent any hazard out of the pandemic.

As per the order dated 02.05.2020, the Chief Justice of Madhya Pradesh High Court has extended the present guidelines with effect from 04.05.2020 to 17.05.2020 amid phase three of nationwide lockdown.


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