With the easing of lockdown restrictions, the Bombay High Court on Wednesday issued a standard operating procedure to follow for subordinate courts in Maharashtra, Goa and the Union territories of Daman, Diu and Dadra Nagar Haveli, for their functioning from Monday.
Currently, subordinate courts are only hearing urgent matters. From Monday, courts in Mumbai Metropolitan Region, Pune, Solapur, Aurangabad, Nashik, Malegaon, Dhule, Jalgaon, Akola, Amravati and Nagpur – all in the red zone – will function with 15 per cent staff while others will have the presence of 50 per cent of their employees.
Mumbai and the others in the red zone have been urged to work for four hours a day in two shifts to hear bail applications other cases where the presence of witnesses are not required. This would mean that cases kept for final orders or judgments as well as revision appeals will be heard.
In cases where substantial evidence has been recorded, the court can also record the witness’ deposition through video conference if both parties agree.
The judges have been directed to make utmost use of the video conference facility and hear limited number of cases daily to avoid overcrowding.
In rest of the state, if there is a spike in Covid-19 cases or a particular taluka is declared a containment zone, further course of action will be decided by the administration. Other changes in these districts include a token system for filing cases, checking of temperature at the entry gates and bar on visits, including by lawyers and those appearing in person.
Meanwhile, while continuing its current video conference arrangement in view of Covid-19 outbreak, the HC also notified an increase in the number of benches from June 5. It has doubled the number of benches and will sit in two batches – from 10.45 am to 1.45 pm and from 2 pm to 5 pm.
To reduce physical presence of lawyers and litigants, the HC will continue the use of video conference hearings on Tuesdays and Fridays till June 16.
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