KOLKATA: From next week, Calcutta High Court will fast-track hearing of cases filed till 2018 and arbitrations filed till 2019 if both parties consent to hearings. The HC is even ready to hold physical hearings if the applicants want but will not permit more than eight lawyers in the courtroom. The court has also left it to the applicants to choose online or hybrid hearings, which start from September 8.
The order says there will be no court on lockdown days and that the courts can stop functioning at any moment if there is a breach in Covid protocol. The HC also says that within a week of resumption of local train services, the physical functioning of the high court will be resumed in a limited manner while adhering to all Covid protocols.
In a detailed order issued by Chief Justice Thottathil B Nair Radhakrishnan on the recommendation of the HC’s Covid committee, the court will form three division benches that will sit daily in addition to the bench headed by the chief justice. There will be four single benches which will also take up cases daily. The HC order said if more cases are filed, another division bench will also start functioning to take up the increased caseload.
Moreover, the HC has advised district courts to increase judicial activities. It has suggested district courts to resume criminal trials in which evidence has already been recorded.
It says that the courts can also start recording evidence but the presiding officer should stop the functioning if Covid protocols are violated. The HC said the courts can resume regular listing of cases to be heard but should not pass adverse orders if anyone is unable to attend court due to genuine reasons.