LAHORE: Keeping in view the difficulties being faced by lawyers and litigants because of unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic lockdown, the Lahore High Court has decided to allow the lawyers to send their written arguments to the courts and also exempted the litigants from personal appearance, unless specifically required.
A circular issued by LHC Registrar Bahadar Ali Khan on Saturday notes that the lawyers as well as litigants have been facing difficulties to attend courts’ proceedings due to the lockdown and it is not predictable as to how much time is required to get back to normalcy.
It says in specified matters, the lawyers may send the brief of their cases/written arguments along with the relevant material to the court through mail or email at the principal and all regional seats.
The circular says the presence of lawyers and government law officers shall not be required in the courts and similarly except in pre-arrest bail applications, the clients will also not attend the court unless directed.
All branches of the court will also start entertaining institution of cases of all nature from April 20.
An official said the authorities at the LHC had been deliberating upon starting virtual-courts in view of the hardships of lawyers in attending the proceedings.
Chief Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan and Justice Ali Baqar Najafi had meetings with bar representatives on the matter.
Advocate Syed Shahbaz Bokhari, chairman of the Institute for Legal Research & Advocacy, also gave presentation to the judges on holding online courts.
The organisation recently held a virtual conference in collaboration with Punjab University on online judicial system.
The conference addressed by senior lawyers also caught the judges’ eye and they invited the organisers to discuss the possibility of conducting virtual courts during the lockdown.
lay-offs: A lawyer on Saturday approached the Lahore High Court against massive lay-offs in the industrial sector since coronavirus lockdown was enforced in Punjab.
Through a public interest petition, Advocate Ishtiaq Ahmad Chaudhry contended that the sudden imposition of the pandemic lockdown caused immense suffering for loss of employment and lack of food.
He said since the workers had been affected the most as their livelihood had been blocked due to the lay-offs on a large scale, the government was duty bound to ensure that no employee of the industry sector was terminated.
The lawyer pleaded that the government be directed to formulate a scheme through which economically weaker employees/workers could be compensated for the loss of livelihood due to the lockdown.
He asked the court to suspend all terminations, resignations received by employers whether oral or written and salary cuts in the industrial sector.
He also urged the court to order the government to ensure fair distribution of funds allocated for the workers in order to compensate their losses.
Published in Dawn, April 19th, 2020