With the sudden surge in Covid cases in the city, the Bombay High Court has decided to shift to a hybrid mode of hearings starting from January 4, 2022. This will be enforced only at the principal seat in Mumbai, as of now.
This comes after a meeting was held between the administrative committee of the HC judges along with the various bar associations and the additional commissioner of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, Suresh Kakani, and also Dr Ramaswamy, the health commissioner of the state. The alarming rise in the number of infections in the city was highlighted and the officials assured that the state and the civic body were equipped to tackle this sudden rise.
“The hearing of the matters in all courts will be through hybrid (virtual / physical) mode at the Principal Seat, Bombay High Court with effect from Tuesday, January 4, 2022, until further orders,” stated the standard operating procedure (SOP) issued by the meeting, adding that the physical mentioning of matters for urgent and immediate hearings wouldn’t be allowed.
“In case of fresh matter, the Advocate or Party-in-person shall first file the matter with filing department, get stamp/lodging number and then move the praecipe by mentioning the said stamp/lodging number on it and setting out the urgency,” the SOP further states.
If any advocate desires to appear physically then s/he will have to adhere to the strict norms of social distancing and other rules.
The SOP further imposed restrictions on entry of advocates inside the courtroom, limiting one advocate per party to argue before the bench physically, along with an arguing or senior counsel, registered clerk etc.
“Entry in the court room shall be permitted to those advocates/ party-in-person whose matter is called out for hearing and also for the advocates or party-in-person whose matter is immediate next subject to availability of space,” the SOP stated, adding, “Entry of litigants to HC premises has been prohibited unless ordered by the Court.”
“In the event of any breach of the terms, court administration would be forced to discontinue the hybrid system and revert to virtual mode of hearing,” the SOP warned.
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