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Delhi High Court restricts access to online hearings

A view of the Delhi High Court.   | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

A Delhi High Court Bench has directed that the link to its court proceedings, now being conducted through video-conferencing (VC) due to COVID-19 pandemic, should not be shared with members of the public, including reporters.

Also read: The epidemic and ensuring safety in courts

Justice Suresh Kumar Kait said, “A very unpleasant situation arose before this court during the hearing of present case. Certain unidentified persons joined the proceedings through VC and could be heard talking continuously, thereby creating hindrance in hearing the submissions of counsels and proper justice dispensation”.

“I hereby direct Registry/Court Master to not provide the link to video conferencing to any other person or correspondent and the same shall be provided only to advocates concerned, IO concerned, parties in person in case the petition is filed for quashing and to the persons specifically directed by this court to join the proceedings,” Jutsice Kait said.

“It is made clear that no advocate shall share the link with anyone else except the senior advocates or the advocates appearing on their behalf,” said Justice Kait’s September 21 order.

As per data released by the High Court earlier this month, a whopping 95% of the litigants and advocates preferred the online or VC mode over physical hearing.

The data was collated based on the total number of cases or application filed from September 1 to 11 and the preferred mode of hearing opted by the litigants and the lawyers.

On August 25, the Delhi High Court resolved that the five Benches will start holding physical courts on rotation basis while the remaining will continue to take up matters through VC.

But, most advocates whose matters were listed before the high court constituted for physical hearing, expressed their inability, reluctance or unwillingness to appear physically and instead opted for taking up the matters through VC.

The High Court in a statement earlier this month said that so far 45 officials (including contractual and outsourced staff) and 192 officers/officials of District Courts had contracted COVID-19.

Despite the adverse circumstances, the court decided not to discontinue the functioning of physical courts altogether but resolved to continue with physical hearings with a suitable number of Benches.

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Printable version | Dec 4, 2020 11:22:11 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/delhi-high-court-restricts-access-to-online-hearings/article32713426.ece

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