The Delhi high court’s (HC) five benches on Tuesday started physical hearing on a rotational and experimental basis with a limited entry for advocates and litigants were barred following the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak.
One fourth of the seven district courts in the national capital also started functioning in a restricted way with limited participation amid the easing of restrictions, despite a spike in viral infection cases in the past 10 days.
While five benches in the Delhi HC will hear cases physically, the rest of the judges will still follow their pandemic schedule of video-conference that had started in May.
The HC put out an elaborate standard operating procedure (SOP) to curtail overcrowding at court premises and start physical hearing on an experimental basis following repeated demands from various bar associations.
The SOP has stated that the entry to court blocks to attend physical hearings will be restricted to an advocate per litigant, whose case is listed on that day.
No other legal aide will be allowed to enter the premises to help the advocate. A litigant will only be allowed entry at the specific direction of the court.
The HC cause list will have two separate sections for physical and virtual hearings.
The physical hearing of cases will be restricted to a maximum 25 a day and all social distancing norms will to be maintained in the court premises.
“Entry time to any court block shall be regulated as per the time slots mentioned in the cause list for different batches of cases. Each batch shall consist of 10 cases. No person shall be permitted entry inside the court blocks before the designated time slot, as per the cause list,” stated an order issued by the HC.
In order to ensure strict adherence to the social distancing norms, seats in each courtroom have been limited to a bare minimum and an entry in the courtroom shall be permitted to those advocates, whose matter is called out for hearing and also for the lawyers, whose item is the immediate next, subject to availability of space, it added.
Air-conditioners have been replaced with fans following several pleas from the various bar associations.