Covid grips judiciary too, courts unlikely to open soon - ECAS Punjab

Covid grips judiciary too, courts unlikely to open soon

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Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, August 26

The subordinate judiciary in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh is staring at a crisis. No less than 44 judicial officers and court officials have tested positive for Covid during the past two weeks. Another 212 judicial officers and officials have been quarantined, indicating the impracticality of permitting physical functioning of the courts.

HC hearing 1,000 cases daily

Further streamlining its functioning, the High Court is hearing more than 1,000 cases daily with an increase in the number of Benches. Available information suggests that no less than 30 single Benches and three Division Benches have been functioning daily since August 24.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court is also not isolated from the outbreak of Covid. Three High Court judges, too, have been quarantined after their staff tested positive. The High Court Registrar-General is also in quarantine because a staff member was tested positive. In all, 13 High Court officials have tested positive during the past fortnight.

More than 600 judicial officers, their families and staff in the two states and Chandigarh were earlier quarantined after accused produced in the court complexes or police personnel bringing them following their arrest were tested positive.

The judicial officers included a district and sessions judge. As of now, the total pendency of cases is 52,746 in Chandigarh, 9,74,942 in Haryana and 7,39,015 in Punjab. The surge in Covid cases involving judicial officers comes amid calls and representations by a section of lawyers to resume physical functioning, which appears to be virtually impossible under the prevailing circumstances.

A senior High Court official confirmed that the administration was in regular touch with the health authorities and other experts. They were of the opinion that the cases were likely to increase rapidly in the coming days. As such, physical opening of the courts should not be resorted to at the current stage.

Despite odds, the subordionate judiciary has managed to dispose of an average 850 cases daily in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh since the courts went into restricted functioning mode in March last week following the Covid outbreak in the country. Information suggests 2,69,069 cases were filed from March 24 to August 10 in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh. As many as 1,01,801 cases were disposed of.

from The Tribune

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