The Gujarat high court has decided not to reopen its courtrooms from Wednesday as it had decided earlier and postponed physical functioning for now.
The reason behind deferring the opening of courtrooms in a phased manner was not revealed, but the standing committee of the High Court took the decision on Monday and the further official announcement was made on Tuesday evening.
With the postponement of physical hearings, the panel four judges — PareshUpadhyay, A S Supehia, A J Shastri, and R P Dholaria — who had agreed to sit and hear cases in courtrooms, will continue with the virtual court and hear cases through video conference. The HC proclaimed in a circular on Tuesday that the deferral of resumption of physical hearing is till further orders.
Earlier this month, the HC took the decision of opening 3-4 courtrooms and the chief justice asked the judges to share their views and interrogated which of them were willing to sit in courtrooms. On September 9, the HC finally decided to open three courtrooms. On September 12, the court published SOP for the physical hearing to avoid any Covid-19 infection among the participants in court proceedings.
However, as the court was to resume physical hearing, though, in a phased manner, Covid-19 tests were conducted on court staff last week. After 12 employees were tested Covid-19 positive. This led the HC to shut its functioning completely. It stopped virtual hearing and postponed physical hearing from September 14 to September 16.
As the testing continued for the HC employees, as many as 30 staffers including a court master of a sitting judge were tested COVID positive. Sources said that this might have prompted the HC to defer its decision to resume the physical hearing.
Meanwhile, the HC permitted the taluka level courts across the state to open with 50% judicial officers. The judges in lower courts have been asked to work on a rotation basis every week.
The high court had shut its courtrooms on March 24 due to Covid-19 and the lockdown. A few days later, it started virtual courts to hear urgent cases like bail applications.