Fearing over a spike in COVID-19 cases in Mumbai, the Bombay Bar Association (BBA) has requested Dipankar Datta, Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court to provide a platform for conducting court proceedings on virtual hybrid format. The request has been made to avoid the curb of covid cases.
As per a Bar and Bench report, To safeguard and protect Bar members and public at large, a representation regarding the same was sent to Chief Justice (CJ) Datta on March 27 requesting that lawyers should be given an option to appear through video conference.
In a letter sent to the Chief Justice, it read, "The lawyers should at least be given the option to appear virtually. This will reduce the footfall in the Court premises and curb the possible spread of the virus infection."
We hope that this request made pursuant to requests received from a large segment of the Bar will receive urgent and favourable consideration, it added.
Since coronavirus cases are at a large in the city, the members of the Bar had made a request to consider the "feasibility of virtual and physical court" during an administrative committee meeting held on March 19, 2021.
Over it, the committee found fit to first monitor the situation for 2 weeks considering there would be only seven working days and then revisit the situation. During the course, the entry of clients was to be prohibited unless specifically required by the Court.
However, the members noted that in the past week, there had been an exponential rise in the number of COVID cases, in excess of 5,000 everyday in Mumbai.
"A large number of advocates have tested positive for Covid-19. We have been given to understand that a number of Court staff and some of our Hon’ble Judges have also been infected," the representation pointed out.
Concerns over rising crowd in the courtroom and the high density of people attending the Court were raised by the members.
Further the letter also highlighted how the members of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) and Debt Recovery Tribunal were found to be Covid positive leading to a disruption in the normal functioning of the said Tribunals.
One of the canteen staff member of the Bombay Bar Association also tested positive for the Covid- 19 virus, following which BBA premises were closed for the day and had to be sanitized by the High Court administration. Numerous law firms have informed the members of the BBA that their juniors, staff and office personnel have tested positive in significant numbers. Some of the firm's have closed their offices," the representation stated.
They requested that at least a hybrid format option could be provided to the lawyers; considering such option was operating smoothly in some of the court rooms of the High Court.
Even the Supreme Court has opted for an experimental hybrid format for hearing of cases effective from March 15, it was stated.