Bar Council of Punjab & Haryana
Dakshin Marg, Sector 37-A, Phone: 0172-2688519, Chandigarh – 160036
Ref. No ………………………..
A COPY OF RESOLUTION PASSED BY THE BAR COUNCIL OF PUNJAB & HARYANA IN ITS EXTRAORDINARY /EMERGENT MEETING HELD ON 16.03.2020.
In the wake of outbreak of COVID-19, the World Health Organization (WHO), has already declared it a pandemic. The Government of Punjab and Haryana & U.T. Chandigarh have already banned large gatherings to curb community spread of the virus. Cinema Halls, Gyms, Malls, Schools, College and Universities have also been ordered to remain closed till 31.03.2020 in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India has also acted upon the advisory of the Health Department and, Govt. of India closed the Courts for regular hearings and only urgent matters are being heard. Only six Hon’ble Judges are to hear the urgent matters in the Supreme Court. The Hon’ble Supreme Court today took suo-moto cognizance of the prevailing situation in the country and registered SUO-Motu Writ Petition (Civil) No. 1/2020 for admission Re:- effect of Contagion of COVID 19, Virus in Prisons, the order passed on 16.3.2020, the Hon’ble Supreme Court has taken notice of the suggestion made on behalf of Govt. of India, which is to maintain social distancing as the only way to be the most effective way of stopping the contagion of C OV ID-19 virus.
Every day thousands of lawyers, litigants and officials assemble for the Court proceedings throughout the State of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh, which make the Courts the most vulnerable and dangerous place for the spread of COVID-19. The Administrative Committee of the Hon’ble High Court vide order dated 16.3.2020, has also decided to only hear the urgent matters and issued guidelines for containing the spread of the virus.
The situation in the lower courts is even worse since the Lower Courts are visited by people from small towns, Tehsils, Sub-Tehsils, Villages, which makes the people assembling at lower courts more susceptible and vulnerable for contracting COVID-19. Moreover, the to face the onslaught of the spread of this pandemic. Even, there are many Revenue and quasi judicial authorities at the District Levels and Tehsil Levels. The Respective Governments in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh have already banned social interaction of the citizens in large gatherings.
In view of such unprecedented situation the Bar Council has unanimously resolved to request the advocates to abstain from work in all the Courts, Quasi Judicial Tribunals across the states of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh till 31st March 2020. However, the advocates may appear only in the urgent matters i.e. bail, anticipatory bail and stay matters. The working of the Hon’ble Judges in Lower Courts, the support staff, lawyers, litigants and para-legal staff is more proximate than the working of the Hon’ble High Court.
The guidelines cum-advisory issued by the Administrative Committee of the Hon’ble High Court are reproduced as under for facility of the legal fraternity throughout the States of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh:-
“1. Those who are not directly involved/associated with a matter listed before this Court, shall not be permitted to enter the Court Premises, till further orders.
2. Henceforth, the ordinary and regular cases mentioned in the Cause List of each Bench shall be adjourned by the respective Reader/Court Secretary/Special Secretary until or unless there is a specific mentioning of a particular case to be taken up for hearing by the learned counsel representing the respective parties. The adjourned date will be communicated through SMS on the registered Mobile Number of the counsels.
3. Medical Teams with Thermal Guns shall be deployed on each entry gate of this Court to check the body temperature of every entrant on said gates. In case, someone is found to have fever, immediate follow up action including the restricting of entry of such person shall be taken up by the Medical Teams stationed at such entry point.
4. All concerned are requested to avoid human contact with others. Not to form gatherings anywhere and to leave the Court Premises immediately after their work is over.
5. The Advocates are also requested to opt for e-filing, unless unavoidable.
The House resolve to appreciate the concern shown by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India by taking suo-motu cognizance of the outbreak of COVI -19 and also the steps taken by the Administrative Committee of Hon’ble Punjab and Haryana Court. The House further resolves to compliment and help the State Governments in their efforts to curb the spread of the outbreak of COVID-19 by minimizing the social community contact.
The Bar Council is also concerned about the democratic process of annual elections of the Bar Associations in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh including High Court Bar Association. The magnitude of outbreak COVID-19 has compelled the Bar Council to postpone the date of election from 3rd April 2020 to 17th April 2020 to maintain level playing field for all candidates. It was unanimously resolved to direct all the Returning Officers/Election Committees to postpone the election of the respective Bar Associations to 17th April 2020, however, the Returning Officers/Election Committee shall continue with the election process for finalization of voter list, nomination and scrutiny, withdrawal etc. The Returning Officer/Election Committee would also pass necessary orders to ban the door to door and Chamber to Chamber campaigning to minimise social interaction. The canvassing through electronic media be preferred.
The meeting is adjourned to 31st March 2020 at 5.00 PM to further review the prevailing situation. With vote of thanks to the Chair the meeting dispersed.
Bar Council of Punjab and Haryana
Endst. No. BCPH/12962-68/2020
Dated ; 16.03.2020
A copy of above said resolution is forwarded to the following for information and n/a.
1. The Registrar General, Punjab and Haryana High Court, Chandigarh.
2. The Chief Secretary, Govt. of Punjab, Chandigarh.
3. The Chief Secretary, Govt. of Haryana, Chandigarh.
4. The Chief Administrative , U.T. Admn. Chandigarh.
5. All the District and Sessions Judge in the States of Punjab, Haryana and U.T. Chandigarh.
6. The President, Punjab and Haryana High Court Bar Association, Chandigarh.
7. All the Presidents, Bar Associations in the States of Punjab, Haryana and U.T. Chandigarh.