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Virtual Hearings to continue even after July 27, only fresh urgent matters may be filed: Calcutta HC [Read Notification]

The Calcutta High Court has notified the continuance of virtual hearings for the present, requesting advocates to file pleas only for those matters that "cannot wait", till August 15.

Lydia Suzanne Thomas

The Calcutta High Court has released a set of guidelines to be followed from July 27 onward, in light of the spike in COVID-19 infections and the ongoing lockdown.

"A balance has to be struck between access to justice and the precautions to be taken for the pandemic. The judicial functioning of the High Court cannot be suspended indefinitely."
Calcutta High Court's notification

Last week, the Court had suspended functioning for most of the present week on account of a spurt in COVID-19 cases.

The latest notification dated July 23, 2020, declares the continuance of Virtual Hearings for the present. However, lawyers have been requested to only file urgent matters that “cannot wait” till August 15. Additionally, the announcement notifies restrictions on entry into the High Court premises for lawyers and the public.

Indigent litigants and lawyers without access to the virtual hearing platform are nevertheless permitted appearance in Court and a physical hearing.

Bail applications of any kind are to be mandatorily filed online along with a scanned copy of the vakalatnama. Other pleas should be filed in the Court itself, the notification specifies.

The notification requires that pleas filed online be accompanied by an undertaking by a litigant's advocate-on-record that the originals of the documents will be filed once the Court's regular functioning resumes.

E-filings may be made at: secy2cj@gmail.com (Principal Bench), and circuit.chcfiling@gmail.com (Port Blair and Jalpaiguri Benches)

Functioning of Court

Two Division Benches, apart from the Chief Justice’s Division Bench (in total three Division Benches), have been constituted to hear cases. Cases would be distributed between the Benches on an “odd-even” basis, the notification explains.

The notification adds that odd-numbered cases would be allotted to one Divison Bench while those that are even-numbered would be heard by the second Division Bench. The Judges constituting the Division Benches will also preside over cases as Single Benches, it is stated.

"Odd-numbered matters will be placed before the first Division Bench and even-numbered matters before the other... The Bench first calling on a matter will take up other identical matters, whereupon the other Bench before which the identical matter was listed will not call on such matter. A matter will be regarded as identical to another if the order on one would govern the other. Similar matters will not be regarded as identical matters. Similarly, the first odd-numbered matter will be listed before the first Single Bench, the first even-numbered before the second Single Bench and so on exactly on... similar lines." the notification lays out.

Division Bench Hearings will take place between 11 am to 1 pm. Single Bench sittings will be held between 2 pm to 3.30 pm.

Requests for video mentioning, however, would be allowed only to rectify errors in order(s) passed, the notification further specifies.

Read Notification:

Calcutta HC Notice dated July 23, 2020.pdf
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