The Bombay High Court on Friday said the interim orders passed by various courts and authorities in Maharashtra after April 9 pertaining to eviction, demolition and dispossession, which are still in operation, will be kept in abeyance only till October 11 in view of the “gradually improving pandemic situation”, The court said that from October 12, interim protection will “cease to exist”.

However, the HC said that in view of the increase in Covid-19 infections, orders pertaining to demolition, dispossession and eviction passed by courts in five districts including Satara, Osmanabad, Ahmednagar, Pune and Ratnagiri will be kept in abeyance for two weeks.

On September 24, the HC had said that the orders would continue to be kept in abeyance only till October 8 in view of the “gradually improving” pandemic situation, and not beyond that, unless the situation further deteriorates.

The court had, on April 16, passed an order that eviction, demolition, and dispossession should not be carried out during the pandemic until further directions, and granted parties liberty to move the HC in case of emergency.

A four-judge bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justices A A Sayed, S S Shinde and P B Varale passed the order Friday while hearing a suo motu petition on the extension of protection to those who are unable to access justice due to restricted functioning of courts amid the pandemic.

Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni for the state government, submitted the latest data of Covid-19 infections and the vaccination status in Mumbai and Maharashtra, and said that positive cases in Mumbai are increasing but “not worrisome”.

He submitted that 0.39 per cent of persons who have gotten the first dose are still getting infected, while 0.23 per cent of fully vaccinated persons are contracting infection.

Kumbhakoni said, “These figures show that interim orders can be vacated. Especially in Mumbai, 91 per cent are vaccinated with the first dose, so we can return to normalcy.”

He added that the Covid-19 situation in Mumbai should be bifurcated with that of the rest of Maharashtra, and interim protection can be vacated as there are many complaints of illegal constructions and metro projects held up.

Advocate Uday Warunjikar, representing the lawyers association, said only those people who have received two doses of vaccine and 14 days have passed since their second dose can travel by local trains, and so far only 48 per cent of the population has gotten their second dose, and therefore, most of the persons are not eligible to travel in the city.

“Most of the lawyers and litigants are applying for continuation of the interim orders. Considering the slight increase of infection in Mumbai, this may be treated as the last extension,” he said.

He added that five districts — Satara, Ahmednagar, Osmanabad, Pune, Ratnagiri — have a percentage of people getting infected exceeding the average percentage of infection rate in Maharashtra. Warunjikar pointed out that the Ahmednagar district administration has imposed lockdown in 61 villages, and therefore, the interim protection must be extended.

The HC will review the situation in five districts and pass further orders on October 21.

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