The Bombay High Court on Thursday decided to resume partial physical hearing of cases from August 2, in view of the improving Covid-19 situation in Maharashtra. The HC has also decided to take steps to implement a hybrid system for functioning of the courts in the state.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the Administrative Committee of the HC headed by Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and comprising of other administrative judges, representatives of the state and Central government along with members of various bar associations of lawyers practising in the court.
Earlier, from April 7, in light of the rise in Covid-19 cases, the HC had reverted to virtual hearing in all cases, except criminal cases of extreme urgency.
State government officials along with Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal briefed the Committee. The state officials stated that due to the increase in the number of vaccinations and decline in the number of Covid-19 positive cases detected per day, physical functioning of the courts can be resumed.
According to a statement issued by the Standing Committee of the Bombay Bar Association (BBA), at the principal seat in Mumbai, each bench will sit four days of the week out of which work will be carried out in physical mode for three days and virtually for one day.
The Central and State government representatives, meanwhile, have assured they would work out the modalities for issuance of monthly passes to permit lawyers and their staff, who have taken two jabs of the vaccine, to travel by local trains.
Steps will also be taken to implement a “fully hybrid system” in all courtrooms as many do not have the facility yet.
Meanwhile, High Court’s benches at Nagpur, Aurangabad and Goa will commence with complete physical hearing of cases, the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for which shall be released by end of this week.
While the subordinate courts in 11 districts including Raigad, Sindhudurg, Ratnagiri, Sangli, Satara, Kolhapur, Pune, Ahmednagar and Beed will work half day (single shift), the courts in other districts will function physically on full-day basis (in two shifts).
Local train access to the fully vaccinated: HC adjourns hearing on PIL
The HC on Thursday adjourned hearing on a PIL filed by a city resident, Mohan Bhide, seeking directions to the Maharashtra government and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to relax travel restrictions for fully vaccinated people who have completed 15 days since the date of their second dose, allowing them to avail all modes of public transport, including suburban local trains. The HC is likely to hear the state’s response to the plea next on Monday.