Gauhati High Court Extends All Interim Orders Till June 1

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The Gauhati High Court has extended all interim orders by various courts of Assam, Nagaland, Mizoram, and Arunachal Pradesh till June 1 in view of the spike in COVID-19 cases. The full court of Gauhati High Court in its meeting on May 8 informally discussed issues arising out of restricted working due to the pandemic and decided to deal with the matter on its judicial side. Accordingly, the full bench of Gauhati High Court, comprising Chief Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia and Justices N Kotiswar Singh and Manash Ranjan Pathak, filed a suo motu PIL on Sunday and issued the orders on Monday.

"Considering that there is a daily surge of COVID-19 cases in the State of Assam as well as in Nagaland, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh, the Chief Justice has constituted this Full Bench suo motu to tackle the plight of litigants caught in this extraordinary situation," the order uploaded on the official website said as reported by PTI.

The Gauhati High Court considered the difficulties faced by the litigants and lawyers in approaching the courts in these difficult times, particularly due to the restrictions, and passed a series of instructions under Article 226, read with Article 227, of the Constitution, the order said. "In all matters, where interim orders of this Court and of the Courts and Tribunals subordinate to it were in force till April 19, 2021, but have expired since then or are likely to expire by June 1, 2021, such orders shall unconditionally stand extended and/or deemed to have been extended till June 1, 2021. "This shall include all such orders of the Outlying Benches and the Courts and Tribunals subordinate therein," it said.

The GHC also kept in abeyance any decree for eviction, dispossession or demolition passed by any court, tribunal or authority during this period, except for any specific order for a given case. It also directed that in cases where the accused or convict is on interim bail, short term bail or anticipatory bail which expired before April 19, 2021 to June 1, 2021, the person may not surrender and his or her bail orders will be effective till May 31, 2021, the Bench said.

The litigants may, however, approach the concerned court or any order on vacation of stay in an individual case in an extremely exceptional situation, the litigants and parties may approach the concerned court. The full bench has fixed May 31 as the next date for hearing on the matter. In order to control the spread of coronavirus in the courts, the HC had earlier taken a few decisions restricting the working with minimal staff across the four states, the PTI report said.

"Now by our own orders, we have restricted the functioning of all courts, which are now functioning to deal with extremely urgent matters alone. Under these circumstances, there may be cases where great and irreparable harm may be caused due to the obvious hindrance to the access to justice," it said. In the order, the Bench said that the entire world is facing the worst pandemic in its living memory and the second wave of COVID-19 has been many times more severe and devastating than the first. "It has crippled our daily life. Like many other institutions, the judiciary is also battling with this crisis and trying new means and methods to keep the courts functional under these strange and difficult times," it added.

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