The Meghalaya High Court has decided to hear only urgent matters as a preventive measure against the spread of COVID-19 virus.
In a circular issued by the Court Registrar General, Belma Mawrie on March 16, the restriction will remain effective up to March 27, 2020.
“Considering the outbreak of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, New Delhi vide office memorandum dated 05.03.2020 has advised certain measures including avoidance of mass gathering to prevent the spread of pandemic disease,” the Circular stated.
The Supreme Court of India and most of the High Courts across the country have also introduced certain preventive measures.
The Meghalaya government has also issued an advisory for residents of the states and shutdown schools, colleges and universities across the state.
Mawrie also informed all members of the bar, advocates, litigants, members of the High Court staff and staff of the other courts in Meghalaya that “only urgent matters shall be taken” from March 16-27 for hearing and all other matters shall be adjourned.
The Cause List of the High Court and other courts shall be prepared as usual but all the cases fixed on a particular date shall be postponed to another date, at least after two weeks.
“It will be notified on the website of the High Court and district courts concerned on the same day and shall also be displayed on the notice board of the court concerned,” the circular said.
It also said the interim relief already granted or interim order already passed and in operation, shall be continued/extended and no matter shall be dismissed in default.
In the Circular, Mawrie said the presence of litigant and under-trial prisoners in all the courts shall not be insisted upon unless it is very essential and request for personal exemption of the accused/witness/parties shall be favourably considered and adverse order shall be avoided.
“The remand of the accused as far as possible shall be given through video conferencing facility so as to avoid overcrowding at the lockup attached to the court,” it maintained.
Moreover, she said the members of the bar have been advised to communicate to their clients to desist from visiting/attending the court proceedings in all the courts of the state from March 16-27.
She said the court staff members have been asked to vacate the court premises by 6 PM which will thereafter be properly sanitized by the cleaning staff.
The areas commonly touched by visitors including restrooms, corridors, staircases, chairs and tables will be cleaned with disinfectants.
All the members of the bar, litigants, members of court staff having symptoms of cold, fever, sore-throat, cough, running nose, sneezing or difficulty in breathing have been advised to restrain themselves from visiting/attending the courts premises.