Delhi High Court on August 12, 2021, announced that the physical hearings in the High Court to be resumed in a restricted manner effective from September 6, 2021, and from August 31, 2021, in the district courts.
The High Court further stated that the physical hearings in the High Court and district courts are subject to the scale and magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic in the capital.
The orders further stated that the courts shall permit hybrid or video conferencing hearing if any parties make a request to such effect.
Physical Hearings in the High Court: Key Points
•As per the directions of Hon’ble Chief Justice, a suitable number of Benches of the High Court shall be constituted for physical hearings.
•The remaining Benches shall continue to take up matters through video conferencing as per the existing system of listing.
•The courts of Registrar and Joint Registrar (Judicial) of the High Court shall take up matters as per their respective cause lists w.e.f September 6, 2021.
•A roster shall be drawn for the above courts to enable to hold physical hearings once a week w.e.f September 6, 2021.
•Regarding urgent matters, the High Court said that all the Benches of Delhi High Court, as well as the Courts of Registrars and Joint Registrars (Judicial), will take up urgent matters through video conferencing as per the existing arrangement till September 3, 2021.
•Whereas non-urgent or pending routine matters from August 16 to September 3, 2021, stand adjourned en bloc.
Physical Hearings in District Courts and Family Courts: Key Points
•Physical hearings in the District Courts in Delhi will be resumed in a restricted manner from August 31, 2021, subject to the scale and magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic.
•The Principal District and Sessions Judges, Principal Judge, Family Court are ordered to prepare a roster of judicial officers so that every judicial officer holds physical court once a week w.e.f August 31, 2021, while remaining shall take up matters through video-conferencing as per the existing arrangement.
•All the Principal District and Sessions Judges and Principal Judge, Family Court are to issue directions to ensure COVID-appropriate behavior and social distancing before entering the courts.
•All necessary arrangements to produce UTPs to be made in coordination with Prison and Lock-up authorities.
Courts exercising criminal jurisdiction during physical hearings
•The courts exercising criminal jurisdiction during the physical hearings will give top priority to the cases where the accused is in custody and to cases that are 5-years-old.
Courts exercising civil jurisdiction during physical hearings
•The courts exercising civil jurisdiction during physical hearings will give top priority to the cases which are more than 5-years-old or are time-bound.
Suspension of Delhi High Court during COVID-19
•The Delhi High Court on March 23, 2020, had suspended its functioning following the COVID-19 lockdown during the first wave. The court later resumed taking urgent matters through video conferencing and physical hearing of limited benches.
•The Delhi High Court on April 8, 2021, had again suspended its physical hearings till April 23, 2021, amid the second wave of the pandemic. The suspension was later extended on intervals.