HC Bar Association wants safety protocol for hearings

DIMAPUR, MAY 25 (MExN): The High Court Bar Association, Kohima held an executive committee meeting on May 25 and resolved on health and safety protocols to be followed in relation to cases to be heard at the Kohima Bench of the Guwahati High Court.  

The association wrote a letter to the Principal Secretary, Department of Health and Family Welfare and the Registrar, Guwahati High Court, Kohima Bench apprising them of the meeting’s resolutions.

The meeting resolved that “all the judges including entire entourage coming to the State from outside will have to be compulsorily tested for COVID-19 on the first day of their arrival.” Towards this, the bar association asked the concerned authorities to make necessary arrangements. 

The development comes following information that a Judge of the Kohima Bench, Guwahati High Court arrived in the State from Arunachal Pradesh today to preside over a hearing scheduled for May 26. The hearing is scheduled to be conducted through video conferencing.

The Nagaland Health and Family Welfare Department on May 25 issued a memorandum stating that all inbound travelers coming to Nagaland “whether for official purpose or otherwise shall mandatorily undergo screening and get tested on the first day of arrival.” 

The memo was issued by the Principal Director, Health and Family Welfare, Dr Vizolie Z Soukhrie. 

According to government sources, the judge concerned reached Kohima on May 25. It was added that he is scheduled to report for sample collection at 8:30am on May 26.  

Speaking to The Morung Express, Joint Secretary of the High Court Bar Association, Joshua Sheqi acknowledged that court hearings cannot be delayed as it will only increase the backlog of cases and inconvenience litigants. 

Our only appeal is that any court official/judge and their entourage, who comes from outside the state must be screened and tested for COVID-19 as per the SOP, Sheqi said. 

He added that despite the hearings being done through video conferencing, physical presence of court employees is required in order to set things up for the Judge. For the safety of such employees, the requisite precautionary exercise must be observed, he added.

The bar association also resolved that lawyers appearing in the cases before the Kohima Bench, but stationed outside the State will have to appear in their respective listed cases only through video conferencing from their station, until “normalcy returns.” 

The bar association stated that the above resolutions are adopted considering the State Government's direction for undergoing compulsory quarantine for persons coming from outside the State.