The Omicron-driven third wave has gripped the judicial machinery in the Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh, with nearly 450 court officers, including 64 judges in the subordinate courts of Punjab and Haryana, having tested positive for Covid.
As per information, over 200 court staffers and 50 judicial officers have tested positive in Punjab. In Haryana, nearly 70 staffers and 14 judicial officers are down with Covid.
No less than 115 officials of the Punjab and Haryana High Court have caught the virus till date.
Seeing the surge in Covid cases, recently on January 3, the Punjab and Haryana High Court had ordered for hearing of the cases at the HC through virtual mode or video conferencing only from January 5, 2022. The order was passed by the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High court on the recommendation of special committee and top law officials. As per the order of the HC, the present system of filing, listing and mentioning of cases will continue as such. Meanwhile, the decision to list the freshly registered ordinary cases in the month of January passed on December 23, 2021, was kept in abeyance.
Meanwhile, in the previous order, the Registrar General of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, had also sent a communiqué to all the district and session Judges of the Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh, to take appropriate measures at their own level regarding hearing of cases through video-conferencing/hybrid/physical mode in consultation with Administrative Judge, District Administration and District Bar Association, subject to assessment of prevailing conditions of Covid-19 restrictions imposed in this regard.
The HC had initially shifted to the virtual mode of hearing in March 2020. Limited physical hearing was ordered to be resumed from February 8, 2021, but it had to be suspended as the second wave commenced. Later it was from September 6, 2021, when the physical hearing of cases resumed partially.