The Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal (MAT) registrar Suresh Joshi has informed the High Court of Bombay that, during the COVID lockdown due to outdated computers & lack of technical manpower the Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal (MAT) with its principle seat in Mumbai and benches at Nagpur and Aurangabad could not conduct hearings through video conferencing (VC).
Joshi submitted in the report to the High Court has said that most of the computers being used at MAT are very old which are purchased between 2007 & 2014. Adding that at least two technical persons are required for the tribunal at Mumbai & one each at its benches, the tribunals lack the technical manpower to conduct the video conferencing. The report stated, since June, the tribunal is conducting the physical hearings.
During the COVID pandemic, MAT benches are working twice a week and have heard the total 1220 cases filed during this period, along with the several other urgent matters and disposed about 599 cases ,the report added.
On a plea filed by Lawyer Yogesh Morbale, a resident of Ichalkaranji in Kolhapur district, Joshi filed the report pursuant to an Oct 28 order passed by the division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta & Justice Girish Kulkarni.
In plea filed through Lawyer Vinod Sangvikar on Oct 6, Morbale complained that due to lockdown, many lawyers and litigants like him were deprived access of MAT due to lack arrangement of online filing and hearing by the tribunal.
In his plea, Morbale sought the directions to the MAT to conduct hearings through video conferencing on a daily basis & to update its website to support an e-court system & make it user friendly.
Joshi said in his report that the tribunal had started its website designed by Mahaonline Limited in July 2013, which has certain basic features. “The space provided for the website on the state Govt’s server is insufficient & therefore, whenever data is required to be uploaded on it, the tribunal has to approach the director, information technology” he added.
The tribunal has a chairman, three vice-chairmen & 5 members. However, of the 3-member posts, one each at Mumbai, Nagpur & Aurangabad are vacant & 2 of the three vice-chairmen are due to retire on Nov 17, 2020, & Jan 22, 2021, the MAT registrar report added.
From Nov 17, 2020 no bench will be available at Aurangabad and Government employeefrom the Marathwada region will have to move to Mumbai or Nagpur in case of urgency. For hearing regular matters, MAT will have to make the arrangement for circuit benches from the Marathwada region.