ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Gulzar Ahmed on Thursday chaired a meeting of National Judicial Policy Making Committee (NJPMC) where it was decided against shutting countrywide courts despite rising number of coronavirus cases, ARY NEWS reported.
The meeting decided that the courts across the country would remain open and follow all standard operating procedures (SOPs) aimed at tackling the spread of virus.
“We will not shatter the hopes of masses who look towards the judiciary for dispensing justice,” the meeting decided.
However, it said the chief justices of the high courts were authorized to take decisions on their own keeping in view the ground realities.
The apex court judge Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan was appointed as the focal person to coordinate with the lower courts keeping in view the developing situation. “The high courts will also appoint their focal persons,” the decision said adding that all high courts would be bound to follow the SOPs devised to deal with the virus.
The chief justice said that they would adopt all measures to prevent judicial staff and applicants from coming into contact with the virus at the courts’ premises.
“We have conveyed directives to high courts to avoid crowds during the proceedings,” he said.
The meeting also decided to conduct screening of relatives of inmates coming for court proceedings while directives were also issued to adopt preventive measures for inmates brought to the courts.
The meeting also decided to lower the burden of work as the courts have been directed to avoid issuing verdicts in the absence of one of the parties in a case. Moreover, a rotation policy should be adopted for the judicial staff of the lower judiciary.
Briefing the meeting over measures taken by the government to prevent virus outbreak, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza said that they would soon provide testing kits imported from abroad for screening at the courts.
“Free tests will be conducted at the government hospitals to screen virus,” he said adding that a hospital would also be designated in Chak Shahzad Islamabad to deal the suspected coronavirus patients.