No mask, no hearing, HC penalises Mumbai lawyer

MUMBAI: The Bombay high court removed a matter from board after seeing that a counsel for the appellant had taken off his face mask.

Justice Prithviraj Chavan was on February 22 hearing a first appeal along with a civil application that has been pending since 2018. He observed, “Counsel for the appellant has removed the mask despite guidelines.’’

The Judge passed an order then, pointing out that the standard operating procedure (SOP) for resumption of physical hearing at the principal seat, high court of Bombay, with effect from January 11, 2021, contemplates “wearing of mask at all times, even during arguments in courts’’ is mandatory.

The SOP also requires strict compliance of social distancing and says entry to court rooms for physical hearing stands restricted to: “one advocate per party whose vakalatnama is on record or who has been duly authorized and whose case is listed for hearing on board of concerned court.’’

It also makes entry into court rooms permissible to advocates and party-in-person whose matter is called for hearing and “also for the Advocates whose matter is immediate next subject to availability of space.’’

The rest of the advocates may wait outside the courtroom or in the Bar Room, while maintaining social distancing norms, the SOP stipulates. Observing the lawyer mask-less, Justice Chavan said, “the matter be removed from the board.”

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