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Reassess viability of continuation of physical hearings, Senior Advocate Rajiv Nayar urges Delhi High Court Chief Justice

ANI | Updated: Sep 10, 2020 01:46 IST

New Delhi [India], September 10 (ANI): Senior Advocate Rajiv Nayar on Wednesday wrote to Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court DN Patel urging him to have a re-look at the viability of continuation of physical hearings in view of rising cases of COVID-19 in the national capital and surrounding areas.
"With a deep sense of anguish and pain, I say that the time has come to have a serious re-look at the viability of continuation of these physical hearings especially keeping in mind the health and safety of the Judges, my fellow lawyers and the staff, whether employed by the court or by lawyers," he said.
Nayar said that judges are at the greatest risk as they have not been given an option (like lawyers) to opt for virtual hearing on days when they are designated to sit in physical court.
The senior lawyer said he had written on August 17 and had made an earnest request to continue with and expand virtual hearings in the Delhi High Court and subordinate Courts, instead of a graded resumption of physical hearings as was proposed at the time.
"The said proposal has been implemented with effective from September 1, 2020, where a handful of courts are functioning as 'physical courts' whereas others are functioning on the virtual medium, albeit on an 'experimental' basis," he said.

Nayar said that at the time when the decision was taken to resume physical hearing, the number of reported COVID-19 cases were close to 600 per day and it was felt that the situation was improving, at least in Delhi.
"However, the situation has drastically worsened in the past few weeks and there are no signs of improvement at least in the near future. I have learnt that there is once again a shortage of beds in hospitals for COVID patients and hence there is an urgent need to maintain precautions," he said.
The letter said that Delhi and its surrounding areas itself are reporting COVID-19 cases in excess of 3,500 per day, which represents a six-fold increase from the middle of August 2020 when he had written the letter following which the High Court resumed graded physical hearing from September 1 for a period of 14 days on an experimental basis.
Nayar said he has also read media reports which confirm that a large number of persons working in the court, including judicial officers, have also been tested positive for this deadly virus.
"This fact itself is sufficient to warrant a re-look at the decision to continue with physical hearings. The system of hearings through video conferencing, which has been put in place is working wonders and now the time has come to expand the hearings to regular matters as well instead of en bloc adjournments to another date. The courts have adapted well to these systems and now are in position to take up a large number of matters, if not all, through video conferencing," he said.
"In view of the changed scenario and an increasing number of cases each day, I would most earnestly request you to reflect upon on the decision to continue with physical hearings as we have an efficient and effective mechanism for dealing with cases through the video conferencing. Once situation improves, we all look forward to a full-scale resumption of our beloved High Court," he added. (ANI)