The Delhi High Court Monday refused to entertain a public interest litigation seeking adoption of virtual hearings in courts as a norm where physical presence is not necessary.
A bench of Chief Justice DN Patel said there was no reason to entertain the plea at this stage as the issue was being considered by the high court on its administrative side.
The bench, also comprising Justice Neena Bansal Krishna, stated that a decision with respect to the mode of hearing is taken with the help of a committee of its sitting judges after due deliberation and that “looking at the pandemic, we are modifying the decision on the administrative side”.
The petitioner, Mujeeb Ur Rehman, said that allowing virtual hearings in the normal course of proceedings would optimise the use of judicial time.
Mr Rehman, a lawyer, submitted in the plea that since it is not “always necessary to be physically present,” the counsel, litigants, parties and courts may opt for virtual hearing which would reduce the chances of unnecessary physical contacts with the public at large when the COVID-19 pandemic was not yet over.
The plea also said that virtual court proceedings are good for the environment as they reduce the use of papers.
“Pass an order directing the respondent (Delhi High Court) to take sufficient steps, along with the physical proceedings, to adopt virtual court proceedings through video conferencing as a norm, that is, the counsel, litigants, parties and courts should be at liberty to proceed in any matter through virtual courts if the physical appearance is not really necessary in that matter, in the High Court of Delhi vis-a-vis courts and tribunals over which this Court has jurisdiction,” it said.
On March 2, the high court resumed full-fledged physical functioning, with an option to appear through a video conferencing link, which was earlier restricted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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