While the first phase of the lockdown mandated for the High Courts in the country to be closed until further notice, the second phase allowed for cognizance of important issues by the means of video conferencing.
However, with the advent of the 3rd phase of the nationwide lockdown, the Allahabad High Court has decided to reopen its Benches (at Allahabad and Lucknow) ‘in shifts’ from 8th May 2020 till 17th May 2020.
New cases will now be allowed for filing online and manually, and cases will be heard per usual. Further, there will be no need to apply for an urgent hearing.
Due to pressure from advocates and their organizations, it was decided to follow the established traditions of providing justice via the open court system.
General Secretary - Sharad Pathak stated that he was requested to send a copy of the motion to the Chief Justice that hearing is not being facilitated through video conferencing. Therefore, in the interest of justice, the courts should resume per normal with certain safety restrictions.
As per a notification issued by the Registrar General of Allahabad High Court - Ajay Kumar Srivastava, the Administrative Committee of Allahabad had decided that the courts would run in two shifts in different sessions for civil matters and criminal matters.
The timing for the civil matters was fixed from 10:30 am to 12:30 am and that for criminal matters were decided as 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm - keeping the view the need for maintaining social distancing norms.
The High Court additionally dispensed the need for filing “urgency applications”.
It was clarified that the subordinate courts will remain closed until further orders. The Registrar General of Allahabad High Court wrote to all the judges of the district court affirming that Commercial Courts, Motor Accident Claim Tribunals, and Land Acquisition Rehabilitation of the state continued will remain shut until further notice.
The provision was added after the Uttar Pradesh Additional Chief Secretary asked the High Courts to open the subordinate courts only after the countrywide lockdown is lifted.
The Chief Justice of Uttar Pradesh will notify the modalities for the smooth functioning of the courts and these arrangements will prevail until further orders.
All the District judges were further asked to ensure strict conformity with the order.