More judges to hold physical courts in Delhi HC from Monday

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New Delhi, Jan 14 (PTI) The Delhi High Court Thursday said it has decided to increase the number of judges who would be hearing cases physically from January 18 onwards 'in view of the decline in the intensity of spread of COVID-19 pandemic in the national capital'.

The High Court has also issued directions to the district courts to hold physical courts on alternate days of the week from Monday. An office order issued by Registrar General Manoj Jain has said that the Full Court of the High Court has decided that 11 benches -- two division benches of two judges each and nine single-judge benches -- shall conduct physical proceedings from January 18 and the rest would hear matters via video conferencing.

Presently, two to three benches hold physical courts daily on a rotation basis. There are presently five division benches and 12 single judge benches in the High Court.

Chief Justice D N Patel for the past few days has been telling lawyers appearing before him in matters to be prepared for physical courts, as soon the High Court would start more physical hearings of cases.

'It is time to get out of your comfort zones,' he had said to lawyers.

Directions have also been issued to the Principal District and Sessions Judges and Principal Judge, Family Court (HQs) to prepare a roster of all the subordinate courts of their respective districts in such a manner that the physical proceedings are held on alternate day basis, the office order said.

The subordinate courts have been directed to 'scrupulously' adhere to norms of social distancing and other COVID-19 guidelines when holding physical hearings.

The High Court has also decided that all pending routine or non-urgent matters listed before it from January 18 to February 20 be adjourned en bloc to dates between March 5 to April 17.

It has also urged advocates, litigants and other visitors to the High Court and the subordinate courts to 'strictly adhere to norms of social distancing and other COVID-19 related guidelines'.

The high court had, on March 25, 2020 restricted its functioning as well as that of the district courts till April 14, 2020. It was subsequently extended from time to time till January 16, 2021.

In between, on August 27, 2020, the high court decided to partially resume physical hearing of matters from September 1, 2020 by two division bench and three single judge benches on a rotation basis.

The number of benches was later scaled down to one division bench and two single judge benches in view of the rise in COVID-19 cases in Delhi and a majority of the lawyers indicating their preference for virtual hearing of cases. PTI HMP SA