The bench passed the order Friday while hearing a suo motu petition on the extension of protection to those who are unable to access justice due to restricted functioning of courts amid the pandemic.
The Bombay High Court on Friday said the interim orders passed by various courts and authorities in Maharashtra and Goa after April 9 pertaining to eviction, demolition and dispossession, which are still in operation, will be kept in abeyance only till October 8 in view of the “gradually improving” pandemic situation, and not beyond that, unless the situation further deteriorates.
The full bench of the HC said the litigants are put to notice, and if the current pandemic situation continues, the interim orders, in all likelihood, will not be extended beyond two weeks, unless the situation deteriorates further.
On August 31, the court had said the orders would continue to be kept in abeyance till September 30 in view of the uncertainty around the Covid-19 pandemic.
The court had, on April 16, passed an order that eviction, demolition, and dispossession should not be carried out during the pandemic until further directions, and granted parties liberty to move the HC in case of emergency.
A four-judge bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justices A A Sayed, S S Shinde and P B Varale passed the order Friday while hearing a suo motu petition on the extension of protection to those who are unable to access justice due to restricted functioning of courts amid the pandemic.
Advocate Uday Warunjikar, representing lawyers association, requested for a three weeks extension instead of two, stating that most of the lawyers will be fully vaccinated by then with 14 days having passed since their second dose, allowing them to avail travel facilities such as local trains. He also said that certain interim orders were passed in about 2,000 matters and it will lead to a rush once the interim protection is vacated.
“We want rush (of matters) in courts. Our orders are well-intentioned, but there are some who take advantage of them. Let the rush (of matters) come in courts. Our officers are up for the task. We will open full access to everyone. Let the matters come up,” responded CJ Datta.
Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni, representing the Maharashtra government, informed the court that though no government decision has been taken yet to lift lockdown restrictions, it has been waiting for period of 10 days, an incubation period from the Ganesh Utsav, to take a final call. The same will end sometime next week, Kumbhakoni added.
The bench in its order noted, “After taking stock of the situation now, we deem it fit and proper to extend interim protection till October 8. It is, however, made clear that if the situation arising out of the pandemic continues on that day, in all likelihood, the interim orders will be vacated. It is only if the situation deteriorates, we will consider extension of interim orders. This order be widely circulated in the media so that litigants can pursue their legal remedies in accordance with law before appropriate fora for further protection.”
The HC will review the situation and pass further orders on October 8.
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