By Sushil Batra And Amiya Kumar Kushwaha
New Delhi [India], September 12 (ANI): Nearly two weeks have already passed since the Delhi High Court decided that the five benches, on rotational basis, should hold physical courts even though most lawyers still prefer virtual mode of hearing amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Around 95 per cent of the advocates had indicated their preferred mode of hearing as 'virtual' on the designated mentioning link/e-filing module of the Delhi High Court.
The data was disclosed by the statistics submitted by the Registry, which was assessed and deliberated upon extensively by the full court in its meeting held through videoconferencing.
It was noted by the full court that such data emphatically revealed that around 95 per cent of the advocates had indicated their preferred mode of hearing as 'virtual' mode on the designated mentioning link/e-filing module of the High Court.
Most of the advocates, whose matters were listed before the benches constituted for physical hearing, expressed their inability, reluctance or unwillingness to appear physically and that requests, in large number, were received for taking up the matters through videoconferencing.
The physical appearances were largely before the single benches, exercising criminal jurisdiction whereas the appearance before the other Benches was relatively low.
The full court also noted that the number of COVID-19 cases has been rising alarmingly in the National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi. Regular medical camps have been organized in the High Court as well as District courts for testing.
Around 45 officials of the High Court (including contractual and outsourced staff) and 192 officers/officials of District courts have already contracted COVID-19. The UCO Bank branch situated in the High Court building has also been shut after three of its officials tested positive.
Despite the adverse circumstances, the full court decided not to discontinue the functioning of physical courts altogether and resolved to continue with the physical hearing albeit with suitable number of benches.
The new roster, effective from September 15, 2020, has been prepared and uploaded.
As per separate directions issued by the Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court, the Principal District and Sessions Judges have been asked to review the requirement of the number of physical courts in their respective districts and to send a report for consideration by the Committee constituted for the preparation of Graded Action Plan.
From September 1, five benches of the Delhi High Court and one-fourth benches of seven district courts complex, on rotational basis, in national capital had started holding physical hearing on pending matters. (ANI)