The Bombay High Court recently issued a few notices that directly impacted it's functioning amid the ongoing surge of Covid19 cases in the city. The HC's functioning, to some extent, has been adversely affected by the virus as it has decided to now hear cases only for three hours a day - this decision has been criticised by a few.
Notably, the HC last week notified that unlike it's usual working hours from morning 10:30 to 5 in the evening, it will now function between 12 noon and 3 in the afternoon. This, the notice issued by the HC administration stated, has been decided in view of the rising Covid19 cases.
Apart from this, the HC, by virtue of another notice, has decided to impose hefty costs on advocates, if they circulate non-urgent matters for hearing. It has said that it would hear only urgent matters during these three hours session, daily till January 28. And that if any not so urgent matter is pressed for hearing by any advocate, then s/he will have to face heavy costs. It further clarified that if not heavy costs then cases of such litigants will be adjourned to a longer date.
It wouldn't be out of place that an advocate has already moved the Supreme Court challenging the decision of the HC to reduce it's working hours.
However, the actual reason for this is because of the fact that over 10 judges of the Bombay HC at it's principal seat in Mumbai, have been infected by the Covid19 virus.
According to a reliable source, more than 50 staffers of the HC, too have been infected as on date.
"Around 8 to 10 judges sitting in Mumbai are down with the virus. If we look at overall (all the seats including Nagpur, Aurangabad and Goa) the number goes up till 16," the source said.
"In Mumbai alone, 50 staffers, who include clerks, stenos, personal assistants etc have been infected with the virus. Moreover, nearly eight judicial officials (Registrars and others) have been infected too," the source added.
This, the source said, "have made a huge impact on the functioning of the HC. And accordingly, a decision has been taken to reduce the working hours and also to hear only urgent matters."
Notably, out of the total 60 sitting judges of the HC around 34 are sitting at the principal seat in Mumbai. Whereas, the total sanctioned strength is 94.