Mumbai: Eight months after coronavirus pandemic restricted the working of courts, all lower courts in the state will begin regular functioning from December 1 onwards.
The extent to which regular functioning will be possible would remain to be seen, with the city’s local trains yet to start functioning as before.
While earlier functioning with minimal staff, with the new Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) approved by the Chief Justice and judges of the Administrative Committee, courts will begin functioning with full staff.
Courts which have largely been working in one shift during the lockdown, having changed to the two-shift system for a brief period and reverted to the one shift system, will now work in two shifts from 11 AM to 1.30 PM and 2 PM to 4.30 PM. In the first shift preferably evidence will be recorded and in the second, cases fixed for judgments, orders and arguments are to be taken up.
The SOP has, however, directed that judges not take adverse action against advocates, witnesses, parties or accused persons if they fail to remain present. Entry is however, restricted to court to only those advocates, witnesses, accused persons and those appearing in person in their cases, whose matters are listed on a particular day. There is specific instruction to enter courtrooms only when one’s matter is called out and leave as soon as the work is over.
The SOP allows bar rooms, bar libraries, canteens to open, which were closed after the lockdown. The sanitization of the bar rooms will be the responsibility of the Bar Associations.