The Allahabad High Court has agreed to hear a letter petition for non-opening of Courts at Allahabad and Lucknow from May 8, 2020, for physical appearance. The same is listed for consideration tomorrow.
On Monday, the High Court had decided to open its Benches at Allahabad and Lucknow "in shifts". It was intimated by way of a notification that the High Court benches will open from May 8, 2020 "in two different shifts having different sessions for criminal as well as civil matters."
Contesting this decision in light of "worsening" of the COVID-19 pandemic situation, practicing Advocate of the High Court, Shashwat Anand has made a representation before Chief Justice Govind Mathur urging him not to re-open courts for physical presence.
"If the Courts so open for physical presence, it is highly likely that the chances of COVID-19 transmission and spread shall increase manifold and the Advocates and the High Court staff members would be bound to overlook and slight the lockdown guidelines and preventive measures put in place. Further, it is not practically possible to take utmost care and precaution as against an invisible virus and there are bound to be lapses in our vigilance," Anand asserted.
He further averred that the Central Government's order dated May 1 regarding extension of the lockdown period until May 17 "occupies the field and as such is a binding law on the matter".
Thus, he submitted, that since the order of lockdown is prevailing, the administrative order of the High Court dated May 4, providing for reopening of the Courts at Allahabad and Lucknow, is liable to be quashed and set aside, being repugnant to and hit by the aforesaid Order of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs.
He has thus urged that instead of reopening the Courts and allowing "physical intermingling", the High Court may increase the strength of Benches sitting in Virtual Courts until the lifting of the nation-wide lockdown and the normalization of the pandemic situation.
He has also prayed that necessary measures should be adopted to streamline the E-Filing Procedure, so as to make it hassle-free, efficient and more-effective, so as to facilitate the Advocates in easily filing their respective cases and the Court in hearing and deciding the matters by the Video Conferencing mode.
The representation was made in a letter format, "owing to the gravity and urgency of the matter involved and the practical constrains of the current e-filing and listing procedure".
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