Delhi courts may open on a rotational basis from September 1, says HC
The high court also said to begin with, only one-fourth of a court’s total capacity, in terms of benches and judges, may resume functioning.Updated: Aug 15, 2020 23:55 IST
The Delhi high court on Saturday said it may resume physical on-site functioning at all seven of its district courts, as well as the high court itself, on a rotational basis from September 1. The reopening, being done on an experimental basis, would depend on the complete availability of public transport and provided that the Covid-19 situation in Delhi remains stable.
The high court also said to begin with, only one-fourth of a court’s total capacity, in terms of benches and judges, may resume functioning. “On an experimental basis, around one-fourth of the courts can resume physical functioning on a rotational basis while the rest can continue taking up matters through videoconferencing,” an office order, issued by the high court registrar Manoj Jain, said.
All courts have remained shut for nearly five months since the lockdown was imposed on March 25 to contain the spread of Covid-19, and although lockdown restrictions were eased from June onwards, courts have been holding only virtual hearings via video conferencing so far.
The administrative and general supervision committee of the high court, headed by chief justice DN Patel, directed the committee for preparation of graded action plan, which was constituted for the phase-wise reopening of courts, to draw up a plan for the gradual opening of on-site courts from September 1 onwards.
HT earlier this week reported that the Supreme Court may also start holding in-person hearings in at least two or three of its 15 courts as early as next week, as demanded by the Bar association, even as the top court wants additional safety measures put in place before the reopening.
The administrative and general supervision committee of the high court has also decided to restrict its functioning as well as that of the district courts to urgent matters till August 31, in view of the pandemic. Earlier, the high court had restricted its functioning and that of the district courts till August 14.
The order issued on Saturday further said courts of registrars and joint registrars have been directed not to pass any adverse order in non-urgent or routine matters, wherein the advocate or litigant concerned is unable to join the proceedings through video conferencing, till the time the physical functioning of the courts resumes.
It also said that all cases listed before the high court, between August 17 and August 31, except those before the registrars and joint registrars, have been adjourned to the period between October 9 and October 23.
Similar directions were issued with regard to restricted functioning in lower courts till August 31 and their gradual reopening from September 1 onwards.