HC starts hybrid system of hearing on trial basis in one court

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New Delhi, Jan 27 (PTI) The Delhi High Court has implemented a hybrid form of hearing, wherein proceedings are held via virtual as well as physical mode, on an experimental basis, in the court of Justice Prathiba M Singh.

The new system has been operational on a trial basis in Justice Singh's court since Monday, January 25.

Lawyers who do not want to attend the physical proceeding yet before Justice Singh were seen logging in from their offices or homes to join the hearings.

Cameras were set up in the courtroom which showed the judge and the lawyers who appeared in person before the court.

The new system would be beneficial in reducing delay in hearings as on physical dates of hearing majority of the lawyers do not attend the proceedings and seek a date for a virtual mode of hearing.

This would not happen under the new system.

The high court had from January 18 started physical hearings on a larger scale than before with 11 benches -- two division and nine single-judge -- conducting proceedings via physical mode everyday.

However, on January 22, the high court issued an office order saying it has initiated steps for a hybrid system of hearing and till it is made operational fully, the lawyers who opt out of physical hearings in advance would be given a date for virtual proceedings.

Sources in the high court said that the new system has been put in place in all courts, but it has been run on a trial basis in Justice Prathiba M Singh's court.

Delhi government additional standing counsel Gautam Narayan, who has reservations about attending physical hearings till the pandemic situation normalises and the vaccine is widely available, logged in virtually for the hearing of his case.

He supported the new system, saying it gives an option to those lawyers who do not want to attend physical hearings in view of the prevailing pandemic.

Advocate Arpit Bhargava, who also attended a matter in Justice Singh's court via virtual mode, welcomed the new system and said this was the future.

Bhargava said that under the new system, on dates when a court is holding physical proceedings, a lawyer need not be compelled to attend it in person and can appear via virtual mode.

Advocate C K Bhatt, who represents the Central Information Commission in various cases, also supported the new system.

He said it was a 'good system' as the user interface is also 'good and easy to use'.

Bhatt further said that under the new system they need not wait around for their hearing outside the courtroom and would also help in saving time spent running from one court to another.

He also said that some district court judges have been holding proceedings via the hybrid system. PTI HMP SA