Legal proceedings in courts will be limited next week because of the coronavirus.
The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has issued new guidelines on the measures to be taken for the prevention of the coronavirus by the judiciary.
The JSC has issued the instructions to the High Court and District Court judges, magistrates, and related parties to be followed in courts from the 03rd-07th May.
The Commission further said it will evaluate and issue any further instructions after, as needed.
In a circular issued in this regard, the JSC said the objective of these measures is to make sure that social distancing is observed inside as well as outside court premises, by minimizing crowding.
As per the guidelines, calling cases should not be taken up in open courts and the re-scheduled dates of those cases to be notified by publications of a notice at the entrance to the respective courts preferably on the previous day or at least before 08.30am each day.
All other hearings are to be restricted to limited number of trial/ inquiry matters and urgent/essential matters only.
Apart from the limited number of trial/ inquiry matters to be taken up for hearing, all other trial/inquiry matters are to be re-scheduled at the beginning of the court sessions each day.
The limited number of trial/ inquiry cases should be taken up on staggered basis and the relevant time slots should be notified in advance.
Where ever possible granting of bail or extension of remand period of suspects/ accused in custody are to be done through electronic means.
During the period from 03-07th May no adverse/ default orders due to the absence of a party/ witness or Attorney-at-Law should be passed indiscriminately.
Request from parties/ Attorneys-at-Law / witnesses for adjournments are to be considered favorably during this period.
Attorneys-at-Law are requested to advise their clients not to visit the court unless their presence is directed by the court or essential.
The JSC said it is vital to ensure that there is no gathering of people inside or outside the gates of the court houses.
The Commission further instructed to ensure social distancing and other guidelines in relation to the prevention of COVID-19 are adhered to at all times. (Colombo Gazette)