Bombay Bar Association seeks virtual hearings as Covid-19 cases surge

In a letter to the Chief Justice of Bombay High Court, the Association said the Benches of the Bombay High Court at Aurangabad and Nagpur have already switched to virtual hearings.

As Covid-19 cases surge in Maharashtra, the Bombay Bar Association has written to the Chief Justice of Bombay High Court, Dipankar Datta, to allow court proceedings to go virtual, or at least become a hybrid of physical and virtual.

Maharashtra recorded the highest positivity rate in the country on Saturday, registering 35,726 new cases.

In its letter to the Chief Justice, the Bar Association wrote, “In the past week, there has been an exponential rise in the number of Covid-19 cases in Maharashtra and particularly in Mumbai. A large number of advocates have tested positive. We have been given to understand that a number of Court staff and some of our Hon’ble Judges have also been infected. Despite this, the crowd in the courtroom and high density of people attending the court continues. In some of the courts, due to very heavy assignments and small courtrooms, lawyers virtually stand shoulder to shoulder.”

Explaining the severity of the situation, they added, “About 7-10 days ago, members of the National Company Law Tribunal and DRT were found to be positive leading to a disruption in the normal functioning of the Tribunals. One of the canteen staff of the Bombay Bar Association also tested positive for Covid-19, following which the BBA premises was closed for the day and had to be sanitized by the High Court administration.”

The Association further said that several members of the Bar had also contacted the committee members and expressed their concern on the continued physical hearings in Court.

“The benches of the Bombay High Court at Aurangabad and Nagpur have already switched to virtual hearings. In light of the above circumstances and with a view to safeguard and protect the members of our institution and the public at large, we request you to consider affording a platform for conducting court proceedings on virtual and/or hybrid format,” the Association added.

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