Amidst the backdrop of the surge in COVID-19 cases in the state of Maharashtra and the country at large, the Bombay High Court has decided to return to virtual hearing in part. While the criminal matters will continue to be heard physically, civil matters are going to be taken up through video conferencing, the way they were operating before the physical reopening of the courts.
The decision was taken in a meeting which was chaired by Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court, Dipankar Dutta. The committee formed for this resolution comprised of The Chief four senior-most judges of the Bombay High Court, ie. the CJ, Justice AA Sayyed, Justice SS Shinde, Justice KK Tated, Advocate General of Maharashtra and Goa, Bombay Bar
Association, Advocates Association of Western India (AAWI), Bombay Incorporated Law Society.
The Chief Justice’s court, however, will operate in a hybrid manner, that is, both physically and virtually. The committee also expressed that only urgent hearing matters shall be listed, and the entry to litigants inside the court is barred unless they are under specific orders to appear. These steps will ensure a reduced footfall inside the courts.
Bombay Bar Association (BBA) president Senior Advocate Nitin Thakkar commented on this resolution saying,“Owing to the present conditions in the city, the Chief feels this is the best way to reduce the footfall in court, all original side courts and civil courts and criminal courts will be physical courts.”
This comes after Mumbai recorded 11,163 cases in a single day, the highest single-day spike since the pandemic started. As a result, the government found it imperative to impose a partial lockdown.