PESHAWAR: The district courts and tribunals resumed operations on Monday after a break of over two months due to coronavirus pandemic.
The wearing of face masks was mandatory for all visitors to the courts. All benches of the Peshawar High Court also began work after 16 days closure.
All visitors and staff members followed the standard operating procedures formulated by the court to stem the spread of the virus. The high court had ordered the closure of district courts and tribunals on March 24 over the outbreak of Covid-19.
Its registrar notified the courts’ reopening on Saturday.
Similarly, the high court had announced that it and its all benches would resume operations on June 1.
Different safety measures were adopted on the premises of the high court and Judicial Complex. Free masks were distributed to visitors. No one was allowed to enter the premises without masks.
An official told Dawn that different times had been assigned to different police stations for the production of suspected outlaws before the relevant judicial magistrates.
The court has devised a strategy to hear cases of urgent nature at the earliest, especially bail petitions of the accused, stay orders and old cases.
The administration asked lawyers to educate clients about safety measures against the virus on the premises and ensure that no person should visit courts unnecessarily.
The lawyers were also requested to meet clients at their respective chambers and not on the court premises.
Mist fans spraying disinfectant were installed at different places of the high court and Judicial Complex, especially entrances. Hand washing facilities were also put up with the staff members asking visitors to frequently wash hands with soap.
After the outbreak of Covid-19 in the province, the high court had ordered on Mar 24 the closure of all local courts. Only few judges and essential staff were assigned duties to handle cases of urgent nature.
Initially, the high court had decided that two single-member benches at the principal seat and one single-member bench at the circuit benches would deal with civil and criminal matters of urgent nature and that a sessions judge and a civil judge-cum judicial magistrate would work in every district court.
However, the number of judges in district courts was later increased and from Apr 13, the number of judges at the high court’s principal seat went up from two to three.
Subsequently, from Apr 20 all the judges of the high court resumed functioning at the Principal seat as well as circuit benches. However, after some of the employees of the high court were tested positive for Covid-19, the court had on May 12 issued a notification through which the high court was closed until May 31.
In light of that notification, only two single-member benches continued to function to dispose of cases of urgent nature.
Published in Dawn, June 2nd, 2020