STATE TIMES NEWS JAMMU: Chief Justice of Jammu and Kashmir High Court, Justice Gita Mittal on Friday held an interaction with lawyers of Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir & Ladakh through virtual mode. The interaction was held in two sessions. During first session, Chief Justice interacted with lawyers having standing at Bar upto 15 years and in second session, interaction was held with lawyers having standing at Bar for more than 15 years. A separate interaction was also held with Judicial Officers of all the 22 Districts of UTs of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh through Video Conference. Besides, the Chief Justice Gita Mittal, Justice Sanjeev Kumar also interacted with the Judicial Officers. Judicial officers were advised to use various Information technology tools like Speech to text Software in dictating orders, reading of online journals, hearing of cases of emergent nature through video conferencing facility etc. to overcome the impediments which come in way of expeditious disposal of cases caused due to spread of Corona virus pandemic. Officers were advised to remain updated on legal issues by reading online law journals and to devote their time in studying laws, statutes and latest judgments of superior courts. Chief Justice advised the Judicial officers to take full advantage of webinars being organized by the High Court in coordination with J&K Judicial Academy on different topics on daily basis. During the interaction, Justice Sanjeev Kumar advised the Judicial officers to evolve mechanism for expeditious disposal of cases especially cases which are very old. Justice Sanjeev Kumar laid emphasis on the concept of Court Management for reducing the mounting arrears of cases. Later, while interacting with lawyers, Chief Justice enquired about their well being and at the same time advised them to follow all the necessary directions, instruction and precautions relating to protection against corona-virus pandemic. The Chief Justice exhorted upon lawyers to keep ascertaining about the well being of their colleagues and to look into their collective needs as well as to discuss way forward during and after the COVID crises. The Chief Justice informed the lawyers that after sanctioning financial assistance in favour of lawyers practicing in UT of Jammu and Kashmir, the process of providing financial assistance to advocates practicing in UT of Ladakh as well as to Munshis working with advocates who are in dire need of assistance because of grave financial hardship on account of lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has also been set in motion. The Chief Justice further informed the lawyers that very recently sanction has been accorded for providing second installment of Rs. 2500/- each, as financial assistance, to the advocates of the Union Territory of J&K who have been given first installment of Rs, 3,000/- by directly transferring the amount in their account numbers. Expressing concern over the lack of basic infrastructure in High Court, Chief Justice informed the participating lawyers that High Court was constructed to accommodate seven Judges only, but at present, with a total working strength of 13 Judges, it is facing acute shortage of space. Due to poor infrastructure and acute shortage of space, High court is not able to start efiling and other IT related activities. Chief Justice added that High Court needs auditorium, crèches, child care rooms, witness assistance rooms, more parking space and other facilities which are not possible in the present building owing to its old design and inability to support further expansion. Terming Bar and Bench as two faces of the same coin, Chief Justice emphasized that Bar and Bench have to work in close coordination for creating adequate infrastructure for the High Court as well as for the District and subordinate Courts of UTs of Jammu and Kashmir & Ladakh. The Chief Justice emphasized the use of technology in the present crisis and how it can help judiciary in dispensation of Justice. The lawyers were advised to embrace the technology and to further hone their technical skills so as to effectively assist the Courts in hearing of cases of emergent nature through use of Video Conferencing. Chief Justice lauded the role of Judges, lawyers and the staff in ensuring Justice to litigants even during the present time of crises triggered by COVID-19. Suggestions and requests regarding construction of more Lawyers’ Chambers, speedy acquisition of land for construction of District Court complexes, upgradation of IT infrastructure at High Court, appointment of Judicial Officers at places where posts are lying vacant, introduction of concept of rain water harvesting in Court Complexes, opening of more physical access to Courts and Lawyers’ Chambers, were put forth by lawyers during the interactive sessions. Chief Justice gave a patient hearing to the lawyers and gave assurance to the lawyers that their suggestions and requests shall be considered on priority basis. Ladakh based lawyers suggested that more robust facility for providing e-Connectivity between Courts located in Ladakh region with Srinagar Wing of the High Court be put in place. Few of the lawyers requested the Chief Justice to organize virtual interactions on regular basis in future also. Chief Justice assured that online interactions shall now be a regular feature and next virtual interaction shall be held very soon.
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