At its first hearing conducted via videoconferencing, Bombay High Court in a Commercial Admiralty Suit and ordered release of an arrested offshore supply vehicle.
A Single Judge bench of Justice A.K. Menon convened the hearing.
The order stated,
"This hearing is convened on the video conferencing facility provided by the registry in view of restrictions placed on the personal hearings in a court room and in view of the social distancing requirements resulting from the COVID 19 pandemic."
The Indian owners of the bunker paid Rs. 1 crore to ensure its release from the fuel supplier.
Both sides digitally signed "consent minutes" of the order. The vessel had been arrested on March 17,2020, after a claim was made by the supplier under The Admiralty (Jurisdiction & Settlement of Maritime Claims Act), 2017. The vessel had been at Bombay High, offering support to oil rigs and therefore, the matter was taken up on an urgent basis.
"It was very smooth and no technical difficulty occurred. The app worked very well on Windows laptop. The voice and visibility were also clear and proper" said Advocate Ashwini Sinha, who appeared for the petitioner (bunker supplier) via videcon.
In a press release dated April 3, 2020 the Bombay High Court declared that efforts were underway to fine tune the system to eliminate physical presence as far as practicable. Court also stated it has taken various measures to secure access to justice during the Covid-19 pandemic, one major example being, conducting cases through video conferencing.
The Bombay High court is also considering setting up such a facility on a long-term basis and according to the press release, the State Government was requested to release requisite finances for these measures.
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