Interim court orders in Maha to continue till April 30: HC

(Eds: Adds details, quotes) Mumbai, Mar 26 (PTI) The Bombay High Court on Thursday said all interim orders passed by courts across Maharashtra shall continue till April 30 in view of the 21-day nationwide lockdown announced by the Centre to stem the spread of coronavirus.

A special bench of four judges headed by Chief Justice B P Dharmadhikari also said orders for eviction, dispossession and demolition of property passed by any court or authority in the state shall remain in abeyance till April 30.

The bench was constituted in emergent situation considering the outbreak of COVID-19 and subsequent lockdown imposed to check the deadly infection's spread.

The bench also took cognisance of a letter written to it by a group of senior lawyers requesting for court hearings to be held via video conferencing to ensure safe access to justice given the extended lockdown.

Earlier, the Maharashtra government had announced a lockdown only till March 31 which has now got extended following announcement of nationwide clampdown till mid-April.

The letter by senior counsels Janak Dwarkadas, Rajani Iyer, Anil Anturkar, Mihir Desai and Gayatri Singh also sought modification of procedures to affirm, file, present petitions and to prioritise public interest litigations (PILs).

'As the lockdown is now declared till April 14, 2020, normal working of this court at least till then is not possible.

'As local transport is shutdown, lawyers and litigants are finding it difficult to approach this court,' the bench said.

'In this situation, we find it appropriate to continue all interim orders, which are operating till today (March 26) and are not already continued by some other courts/authority, shall remain in force till April 30, 2020, subject to liberty to parties to move for vacating the interim orders only in extreme urgent cases, the judges said.

Orders or decree for eviction, dispossession, demolition already passed by any court/Tribunal/Authority shall also remain in abeyance till then (April 30),' the bench said.

Considering the prevalent shutdown and other issues, we hope that government as also municipal authorities and other agencies or instrumentalities shall also be slow in taking any coercive steps so as to drive the citizen to court of law in the meantime, the bench said.

It added that facility of e-filing is already available to litigants and hearing through video-conferencing can also be availed as that arrangement has been made since last week.

The court said two benches will be sitting on three different dates up to April 15 to hear urgent matters. PTI SP RSY RSY