Delhi High Court calls for report from district courts on requisite infra for holding hybrid hearings

Sushree Mohanty

The Delhi High Court has sought reports from its subordinate and district courts on whether they have the building or structure for holding hybrid procedures where hearings can be conducted through physical or online mode simultaneously.

Justice Prathiba M Singh directed the High Court’s Registrar General to seek for the report from the District and Sessions Judges (DSJs) of the subordinate courts.

The direction came in response to a petition moved by several attorneys who are senior citizens and have been suffering from certain medical conditions and are unable to attend the proceedings physically during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The High Court additionally restrained the Delhi government as a party in the matter and directed it to file a response with regards to the petition by the advocates who are seeking District Court’s permission to attend the proceedings via online medium on days when they hold physical hearings. 

The High Court on January 14, 2021 had directed the subordinate courts to hold hearings in offline mode on each substitute day.

Justice Singh stated that the reports sought for will demonstrate and explain how the hearings were being held before January 14, 2021 and the accessibility of web facility and data connectivity devices in the court premises and residence of the officials. 

The report will likewise specify “whether it was feasible to hold hybrid hearings and if so, what would be the requirements for the same”, she added.

The advocates, in their petition, have asserted that even on days where virtual proceedings are scheduled, the majority of the district courts are not conducting the proceeding  through video calls or other online format because of weak network problems and connectivity issues from the side of the advocates, unavailability of proper buildings etc. 

Read also: SCAORA requested CJI to continue physical hearings & virtual ones in hybrid order