HC to decide on conducting online and physical hearings

The Bombay High Court on Tuesday said it would take a decision on using both online and physical hearings in view of the increase in COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra.

Chief Justice Dipankar Datta said several recommendations had been received for adopting the hybrid (online and physical) system of hearings, but no decision had been taken yet. “An internal meeting with the administrative committee of the High Court will be held this week and a decision will be taken based on what the experts suggest,” he said.

A Bench of Chief Justice Datta and Justice G.S. Kulkarni made this statement after senior advocate Vikram Nankani told the court that senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi would appear via videoconferencing if the option was available. Mr. Rohatgi is representing former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh after he filed a petition seeking a probe into the allegations made by him against Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh.

On March 19, Nagpur and Aurangabad Benches of the High Court had reverted to hearing of cases via videoconferencing owing to the rise in novel coronavirus cases.

On March 28, the Bombay Bar Association had sent a representation to Chief Justice Datta requesting for hearings to be conducted via videoconferencing or a hybrid for those lawyers who do not wish to travel.

On Monday, a notice was issued by the Bombay High Court registrar, Chief Justice Datta, and the HC administrative committee stating that from March 30, subordinate courts in Maharashtra would function from 11 a.m. to 1.30 p.m. and from 2 p.m. to 4.30 p.m. on all working days.

Last week, Justice Gautam Patel had issued a notice saying lawyers and all parties with cases listed in his court could choose to attend hearings via videoconferencing.

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