The Bombay High Court and all subordinate courts in Maharashtra except Pune resumed in-person hearings from Tuesday after a gap of eight months.
Since the coronavirus pandemic began, the courts had been conducting hearings online, through video interface.
All courts, including the HC, shall now sit daily for four-and-half hours. The high court had, on November 27, taken the decision to resume physical hearings, except in Pune judicial district.
However, lawyers’ bodies have requested the Chief Justice of the High Court to continue with virtual hearings till January owing to increasing number of COVID-19 cases and the continuing partial lockdown in the state.
The Bombay Bar Association and Advocates’ Association of Western India sent representation to Chief Justice Dipankar Datta, saying they understood the need for commencement of physical courts but it should be done in a phased manner.
On Tuesday morning, senior judges of the HC, senior lawyers from the two associations and Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni had a meeting on the issue.
A lawyer who was part of the meeting later said Chief Justice Datta heard the lawyers’ grievances and assured that appropriate decision shall be taken in due course.
The lawyers, in their representation, have sought that courts give them an option to appear virtually.
Several other lawyers, however, supported the decision to resume physical hearings and said that if precautions of social distancing and wearing masks were taken, they have no objection.
On Tuesday, in the high court, lawyers were asked to wait in adjacent rooms until their matters were called out.
Chairs had been placed at distance from each other, and the police personnel stationed at the gates checked the temperature of those entering the premises.