Amid the worst tide of COVID-19 rise in the second wave, India is taking all precautions starting from shortening election campaigns to lockdown, curfew and vaccination drives, and holding several high-level meeting virtually to curb the spread. India is leaving no stone unturned in the fight against COVID-19.
Meanwhile, the High Courts of several states and cities have decided to function virtually. Allahabad and Rajasthan High Courts are the latest to get added to the list. Both Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan are facing a grim situation as cases and positivity rates are rising without any dip. Allahabad High Court however extended the virtual hearings as it was earlier imposed on April 12.
According to the latest notice issued, Allahabad High Court and all its offices will remain closed and an urgent hearing will only be taken.
"Only urgent cases will be taken up by the courts only through virtual modes with effect from April 26, 2021," mentioned the notice.
While the Rajasthan Government on the other hand has decided to function virtually from April 19 till May 3. Several other curbs are also imposed in the state during this time. The step has been taken to make sure no gatherings are done amid the battle with COVID-19.
Apart from Rajasthan and Allahabad, several other High Courts of the country have decided to function online as the condition is extremely scary and worrisome.
As the situation is alarming in the national capital, Delhi High court announced virtual operations of the High Court on April 9. Almost after only a month when the physical hearing started the court had to switch back to virtual mode amid a spike in COVID-19. The notice was issued till April 23 however now that a week-long lockdown has been announced in the city, it is expected for the virtual hearings to get extended.
Maharashtra which is currently on the top when it comes to total COVID-19 cases is also expected to go under lockdown as Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar recently suggested. The Bombay High Court pushed back to a virtual hearing from April 7 effective till May 7. However physical filing of cases was allowed.
According to the notice issued on April 15, Madras High Court had decided to function online till April 23. Only government lawyers were allowed to work physically for bail and other urgent motions. A review meeting regarding the same is scheduled for April 22.
The Karnataka High Court has been functioning virtually since December 2020 with a condition that lawyers who want to function physically were allowed to do so. However keeping in mind the current situation, Chief Justice AS Oka urged lawyers to work virtually as much as possible. On April 15, a formal notice was issued entry inside the High Court was prohibited for District/Trial Courts in nine districts.
As per the notice issued on April 17, the High Courts started virtual hearing from April 19. The lawyers however were allowed to function physically if they wanted to. Meanwhile, Chief Justice Ravi Shanker Jha tested positive for COVID-19 on April 17. #
The decision for virtual hearing was taken on April 15 while physical hearing had only started from February 2021.
Jammu and Kashmir High Court
On April 5, the J&K administration decided to roll back virtual hearing in view of COVID-19. Initially, the decision was taken till April 18 however it was later extended till April 30.
The virtual hearing started in the High Court on April 5. Although the cases could be filed through the drop-box near the court premises or via email or the online portal.
The court has not started a physical hearing till date since the virtual hearing that started in 2020.