High Court to partially resume physical hearing from September 1 on trial basis

With Delhi High Court scheduled to partially resume physical hearing from September 1, after a hiatus of about five months due to outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, the Bar Council of Delhi (BCD) on Tuesday appealed to the city’s lawyers to fully cooperate with the process.

BCD Chairman K.C. Mittal said that though “a section of colleagues in the profession are against resumption of physical hearing”, it is not the appropriate time for raising voice in favour or against physical hearing.

“The model which is going to be implemented is on experimental basis and we hope it will protect the interest of all the stakeholders in the system,” Mr. Mittal said.

The High Court had suspended its physical hearing from March 23 this year following the nationwide lockdown in view of the COVID-19 outbreak. It has since then restricted the hearings, which are now conducted through videconferencing, to cases which are of urgent nature only.

On August 15, the Delhi High Court Registrar General Manoj Jain announced that subject to complete availability of public transport and the situation in Delhi remaining stable, a plan will be evolved for gradual opening of physical courts from September 1 onwards.

Rotational basis

“To begin with, on experimental basis, around one-fourth of the courts can resume physical functioning on a rotational basis while the rest can continue taking up matters through videoconferencing,” Mr. Jain had said.

The High Court is in the process of formulating a “comprehensive plan” which will be placed before the Committee for Preparation of Graded Action Plan and thereafter before the full court for consideration.

The BCD acknowledged that due to the restricted functioning of the courts, lawyers are facing financial crunch. “The necessity of physical functioning of the courts was eagerly awaited to enable advocates to earn their livelihood,” the BCD said.

“We are in a situation between devil and deep sea since on the one hand, we are facing financial crisis but at the same time, eminent danger of spread of novel coronavirus is looming large,” Mr. Mittal said.

He cited the example of Punjab and Haryana, Gujarat, Mumbai and other High Courts which are currently functioning through videconferencing only and there is no move so far for resuming physical hearings.

“In the State of Rajasthan, the Chief Justice and many other staff were found positive after opening for a few days,” Mr. Mittal said, adding that the High Court then closed immediately. “In Uttar Pradesh also the situation is more or less similar since many lawyers and others got infected, the Allahabad High Court has been closed until August 17.BCD said the Delhi High Court’s decision to reopen physical hearings is in the right direction and “onus is on all of us to make it success”,” he added

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Printable version | Dec 4, 2021 2:32:43 PM |

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