Bombay HC to resume partial physical, virtual hearings from Monday

In a significant move for lawyers and litigants, the Bombay High Court will re-start a hybrid system of physical and virtual hearings from August 2 in view of the improved Covid-19 situation in the state, officials said on Thursday.

The development follows a meeting of the Bombay HC Administrative Committee presided over by Chief Justice Dipankar Datta where it was decided to conduct three days of physical hearings and one day of virtual court hearings.

In a statement, the Bombay Bar Association said that circulation of matters would be via precipice sent by emails for the time being and mentioning on virtual platform would be also permitted.

The Centre and Maharashtra government would chalk out the modalities to facilitate train travel by lawyers and other legal staff who are fully vaccinated on a monthly pass basis.

However, litigants shall only be allowed inside the courtroom on if their presence is required by the court and the relevant instructions/SOPs for facilitating these new measures shall be issued in a couple of days.

The decision is pursuant to the outcome of a meeting this week with the BMC Commissioner I.S. Chahal and state government officials along with Law Department officers and members of various bar associations.

It was stated that due to the reducing number of Covid-19 daily positive cases couple with the increase in the numbers of people getting vaccinated, physical hearings could commence.

After the outbreak of the second wave of the Covid-19, the Bombay High Court in Mumbai, and its benches at Aurangabad, Nagpur, and Goa have been conducting only virtual hearings since April, and mainly for urgent matters.

However, lawyers have been regularly pressing the state government and the court to revert to physical hearings and also permit travel by suburban trains, citing the pending cases before various courts, besides demanding that if malls and restaurants could reopen, then why not the courts.