Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Thursday said that it has decided to resume limited physical hearings in the High Court from August 31 and in district courts from August 24. The High Court in its notification said that on physical hearing days, the courts shall permit hybrid/video conferencing hearing where a request to such effect is made by any of the parties and or their counsel.
The Delhi High Court has issued two notifications, one for the High Court and the other for the district courts.
In partial modification of its earlier Office Order of August 12, the full Court of Delhi High Court has ordered that physical hearings in the court shall resume from August 31 and "a suitable number of Benches of this Court, for physical hearings, shall be constituted as per the directions of the Chief Justice of Delhi High Court while the remaining Benches shall continue to take up the matters through video conferencing, as per the existing system of listing of matters".
"All other pending routines/ non-urgent matters listed before this Court till September 3 shall stand adjourned en bloc, as already notified," the order said. The Courts of Registrar and Joint Registrar (Judicial) of the court shall take up all the matters as per their respective cause lists wef August 31, 2021. A roster shall also be prepared for the said courts in such a manner that every Registrar/ Joint Registrar (Judicial) holds physical court on alternate days wef August 31, 2021 while the others continue to hold courts through video-conferencing, as per the existing arrangement, on non-physical days.
The full Court of Delhi High Court has ordered that physical hearings in the district courts in Delhi shall resume in a graded manner with effect from August 24.
All the Principal District and Sessions Judges and Principal Judge, Family Court (HQs) have been directed to prepare the roster of judicial officers in such a manner that every judicial officer holds physical court on alternate days wef August 24, 2021 while the others continue to hold court proceedings through video-conferencing, as per the existing arrangement, on non-physical days.
"Thus, on any given day, 50 percent of the total strength of judicial officers shall hold the court physically while the remaining 50 per cent shall hold the courts through virtual mode. Endeavour shall be made to take up stay applications, bail applications and other miscellaneous urgent matters on physical days, wherever request to such effect is made," the notification said.
It said the bail roster of additional sessions judges be prepared while ensuring that on a given day, at least one additional sessions judge sits physically. In addition to his regular board, such roster judge, shall also deal with fresh bail applications in those cases, where the investigation is pending and the counsel has made a specific request for hearing the matter in physical Court.
Such bail applications shall, as far as possible, be disposed of by the same roster judge. The earlier direction issued by the court vide office order dated April 8, 2021 that no adverse orders shall be passed by the district courts in Delhi in case of non-appearance of parties and/ or their counsel stands withdrawn wef August 24, 2021, the notification said.
All the principal district and sessions judges and Principal Judge, Family Court (HQs) shall, in coordination with respective Bar Associations, issue directions to regulate entry and for compliance of norms related to COVOID- appropriate behaviour and social distancing by all concerned. The necessary arrangements for the production of UTPs shall be made in co-ordination with Prison and Lock-up authorities, the notification said.
"In order to restrict the footfall, only those litigants shall be allowed entry into the courtroom(s) whose appearance is recommended by their respective counsel or who are appearing in person or whose presence has been directed by the court, " it added. After the second wave struck the national capital, the Delhi High Court on April 8, 2021, suspended its physical hearing till April 23 which was later extended from time to time.
Delhi High Court had suspended its functioning on March 23, 2020 due to the situation created by COVID-19. However, the high court continued to take up urgent matters through video conferencing and later resumed physical hearing of limited benches.
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