January 29, 2021 5:07:01 am
A Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT) bench of Ahmedabad on January 27 imposed a fine of Rs 2,000 on a witness for not following Covid-19 norms while being present physically in an advocate’s chamber during a virtual hearing.
The bench further directed the witness to submit the penalty amount in the account of National Defence Fund.
Presiding officer Vinay Goel of DRT-1 in Ahmedabad was hearing an application moved by Dena Bank in 2018 through the applicant’s advocate Bhavesh Suthar. A witness in the case, Vijay Sharma – chief manager at Bank of Baroda – who was present virtually before the presiding officer for his deposition, through Suthar’s chamber, was found not wearing a mask, although the witness wore a mask when he was to appear in the virtual hearing.
Goel not only felt it to be “fair” to impose a penalty of Rs 2,000 on the said witness, but also held that litigants such as the Sharma “are responsible” for the “sufferings” of advocates.
“The conduct of the witness is liable to be depreciated, because he is/was seated in the chamber of the advocate, just near to the advocate, without proper mask and has failed to follow social distancing norms…Need not to say that many advocates have suffered due to Covid-19 pandemic and in fact such type of litigants are responsible for their sufferings…I feel fair to impose cost of Rs 2,000 on witness Mr Vijay Sharma, Chief Manager, Bank of Baroda for not observing social distancing norms,” Goel’s order stated.
Sharma has been directed to deposit the penalty amount with the National Defence Fund, in a New Delhi branch of State Bank of India bank account, within two days, while adjourning the application for hearing to February 4.
Notably, the same presiding officer – Vinay Goel – in November 2020 had fined an advocate Rs 10,000 for attending a virtual hearing before the DRT bench from his car. Similarly, the advocate too was instructed to deposit the cost with the National Defence Fund.
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