HC calls for report from district courts on requisite infra for holding hybrid hearings

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New Delhi, Feb 16 (PTI) The Delhi High Court Tuesday called for a report from subordinate courts on whether they have the infrastructure for holding hybrid proceedings wherein hearings are held both physically and via video conferencing simultaneously.

Justice Prathiba M Singh asked the High Court's Registrar General to call for the report from the District and Sessions Judges (DSJs) of the subordinate courts on a plea moved by several lawyers who are senior citizens suffering from co-morbidities and apprehensive of attending physical hearings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The High Court also impleaded the Delhi government as a party in the matter and issued notice to it seeking its stand on the plea by the lawyers who wants that the district courts should allow them to attend hearings via video conference on days when they hold physical proceedings.

The High Court on January 14 had issued a notification directing the subordinate courts to hold physical hearings on every alternate day.

Justice Singh said the report called for shall indicate how the hearings were being held prior to January 14 and the availability of internet connectivity and devices in the court premises and residences of the judicial officers.

Besides that, the report shall also indicate 'whether it was feasible to hold hybrid hearings and if so, what would be the requirements for the same'.

The lawyers, in their plea, have claimed that even on days for virtual hearings, some district courts are not holding court via video conference due to poor connectivity on the part of lawyers, lack of proper infrastructure, etc.

In some cases, even adverse orders, like closing the opportunity to lead evidence, have been passed when such lawyers have not appeared on physical hearing days, the petition has claimed.

The high court listed the matter for further hearing on February 26. PTI HMP SA