Bombay HC to hear matters virtually till May 7, lower courts to function only for two-and-half hours a day

To curtail the spread Covid-19 virus, the Bombay High Court administration along with its chief justice and senior-most judges have decided to continue the virtual hearings till May 7.

A meeting was chaired by Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and other senior-most judges of the high court, who are members of the administrative committee, on Friday morning.

Accordingly, it has been decided to extend the present hearings through video conferencing till May 7.

Notably, the high court administration had last week decided to hear only urgent matters through video conferencing, in view of the fresh surge in Covid cases in the city.

Only limited benches would hear urgent and important matters till May 7 through video conferencing.

Also, subordinate courts in the state will work in one shift of 2.5 hours from 19 April. Presently they are working in two shifts of two hours each. One shift working will come in force as per a new circular issued today by the Registrar General to Principal Judges of Sessions Courts. The decision has been taken, it says, in view of the exponential surge in COVID-19 cases and the views of stakeholders. The courts will take up remand, bail and urgent criminal and civil matters. In a meeting of sessions courts judges held on 6 April, resolutions were passed for the registrar to arrange a drive for rapid antigen testing of court staff, an appeal to advocates not to allow their junior advocates and clerks to come to court so as to avoid overcrowding. It has also passed a resolution to restrict entry of litigants for only matters such as those listed for final judgment, verifying surety and compromise or compounding.

A four-member committee of judges of the city sessions court has passed a resolution in its recent meeting of 6 April to strictly prohibit entry of litigants except in few exceptional cases and also to conduct a testing drive for all its staff.

There was also an appeal to advocates not to allow their junior advocates and registered clerks to accompany them to prevent overcrowding. The committee discussed matters in its meeting in light of the sudden surge of COVID-19 cases in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region and also in pursuance of directions of the Bombay HC.

Among the resolutions is that the Registrar is to conduct a drive to conduct rapid antigen testing of all the staff. It has also asked all its staff who are eligible for vaccination, to get inoculated.

Entry of litigants is also prohibited and they are to be allowed only in cases in which matters are fixed for final judgment, for surety verification or for compromise or compounding. It also said that all police stations be directed to conduct rapid antigen testing of accused who are produced for remand before court.

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Free Press Journal