Is ₹79 crore enough for hybrid courts infrastructure, asks HC

The Delhi High Court on Thursday asked its Registrar General to find out if the city Government’s revised estimate of ₹79.48 crore from an earlier projection of over ₹220 crore for setting up infrastructure for hybrid hearings in district courts here was feasible.

A Bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh said the response of the Registrar General should be duly supported with expert opinion.

Earlier estimate: ₹220 cr.

The court pointed out that an earlier estimate of over ₹220 crore, which was submitted by the High Court registry to the Delhi Government, was brought down to ₹79.48 crore on account of lowered specifications of the infrastructure proposed to be installed for hybrid hearings.

“You (Government) have put a ceiling of ₹79 crore at your end. Has anyone applied his mind to say that ₹79 crore is good enough for virtual court? How can you go to the IT Department later?” the Bench asked.

Delhi Government’s counsel said the revised estimate of ₹79 crore has received “in principle” approval of the Finance Department and after the receipt of a proposal from the relevant authorities, it will be sent to the IT Department of the Delhi Government for further approval.

The counsel said IT experts were “taken into confidence” while deciding the revised estimate and in case the infrastructure needs an upgrade, the same will be done.

The High Court, which was hearing two pleas by lawyers Anil Kumar Hajelay and Manashwy Jha seeking various prayers including conducting hybrid hearings in district courts on physical hearing days because of the COVID-19 pandemic, posted the case for further hearing on November 9.

It sought status reports from the Delhi Government after it receives approval from its IT Department as well as on the outcome of its meeting with the representatives of tribunals functioning under it on the infrastructure required for hybrid hearings.

In the previous hearing, the High Court had asked the Delhi Government for a timeline for putting the system in place in the trial courts here. It had said that the purpose of the exercise was to ensure that no inconvenience is caused to advocates and litigants in case of a third wave of COVID-19.

The court had earlier made it clear to the Delhi Government that if the proposal to set up infrastructure for hybrid hearings in trial courts and quasi-judicial bodies is turned down on grounds of expenditure, it will examine expenses incurred by it on subsidies and public advertisements from April 2020.

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Printable version | Dec 8, 2021 4:10:32 AM |

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