Mumbai: lower courts to resume regular functioning

The lower courts across Mumbai are to resume regular functioning with a new standard operating procedure that allows courts to operate in two shifts for a total of five hours.

Mumbai: lower courts to resume regular functioning

On Friday, November 27, amidst COVID-19, a new standard operating procedure (SOP) has been issued that allows all trials to resume in lower courts across Mumbai.

Moreover, the Bombay High Court’s administrative committee has stated that the courts will work in two shifts and proceedings will be conducted every day for a total of five hours, instead of three, at present. In addition, 10 division benches and 12 single-judge benches of the high court are going to hear matters physically whereas three single-judge benches will continue hearing matters virtually.

However, the SOP states that the judges are to not take strict action against advocates, witnesses, parties or accused individuals if they fail to remain present physically. In view of the pandemic, entry to the courts has been restricted only to those advocates, witnesses, accused persons and those appearing in person in their cases, whose matters are listed on a particular day. Moreover, an individual is to enter the courtrooms only when one’s matter is called out and leave as soon as the work is over. The remaining individuals will have to wait outside the courtroom and enter only when their case is being heard.

This new SOP also permits bar rooms, bar libraries and canteens to resume operations which had been closed in the lockdown. The responsibility of the sanitization of the barrooms however depends on the bar associations. In the midst of the coronavirus-induced lockdown, the lower courts had been functioning in one shift only. It later changed to two shifts but reverted to the single shift system once again before deciding to function in two shifts.

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