Senior advocates of the Bombay High Court Thursday wrote to the Chief Justice Bhushan P Dharmadhikari to make changes in filing and presenting cases to protect court staff and lawyers during coronavirus outbreak and to prioritise public interest litigations (PILs) pertaining to issues of common and poor people during the 21-day national lockdown.
In a letter to the Chief Justice, senior advocates Janak Dwarkadas, Rajani Iyer, Anil Anturkar, Mihir Desai, and Gayatri Singh requested him to take necessary steps to avoid personal presence of petitioners to sign and affirm the PILs.
The lawyers suggested that e-filings should be allowed and hearing of the petitions be undertaken regularly through video conferencing for the safety and protection of all associated persons. “The grievances of poor and marginalised be given priority and with sensitivity for effective redress,” the letter read.
The letter states that March 22 Janata Curfew has pointed difficulties to certain sections of the underprivileged citizen and 21-day lockdown will increase their hardships manifold.
There are many concerns that affect poor in terms of access to food, shelter, water, sanitation among others, senior counsels noted.
The letter also stated, “In particular, the perils of the poor and marginalised, many of whom comprise of migrant workers stranded at various locations, daily wage earners who find themselves without jobs and income, persons with special needs, are simply unable to gain access to or avail of health and medical facilities.”
The lawyers said that such marginalised persons and their representatives have been raising grievances with authorities but could not avail required response.
The letter further stated, “As officers of this court, it is an earnest request that the justice system continues to be accessible, particularly for the poor and marginalised during present crisis.”
In view of the lockdown in the state, Chief Justice Dharmadhikari on March 23 made an appeal to lawyers and litigants not to file non-urgent matters as directed earlier, failing which exemplary costs will be imposed on them.
Last week, Bombay high court judge Anil K Menon came up with an innovative measure and issued a notice that highly urgent matters will be taken up for mentioning by video conferencing through a mobile application on court working days.
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