‘Courts are bound to follow guidelines on hybrid hearings’

Plea says district courts not adhering to it despite directions

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday said the courts in the Capital are bound to follow the directions passed by it when it permitted trial courts to hold hybrid or videoconferencing hearings at the request of parties.

A Bench of Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Jasmeet Singh asked the Delhi Government and the High Court to respond to a plea claiming that the district courts are not permitting hybrid hearings despite its directions.

“The High Court has already issued directions. They are bound to comply with it,” the Bench said.

The court was hearing two plea by advocates Anil Kumar Hajelay and Manashwy Jha who had amongst others sought conducting hybrid hearings in district courts on physical hearing days because of the COVID-19 threat.

The plea said despite the court’s directions passed on the administrative side that district courts shall permit hybrid and videoconferencing hearing facilities, the subordinate courts were not complying with it. The plea claimed that even when advocates are making such a request, permission was not being granted by some of the trial court judges.

The court had earlier said that there was an apprehension of a rise in COVID-19 cases and the infrastructure for hybrid hearings in district courts and other quasi-judicial bodies here must be in place. The High Court had made it clear to the Delhi Government that if the proposal to set up infrastructure for hybrid hearings in trial courts and quasi-judicial bodies is turned down on grounds of expenditure, it will examine expenses incurred by it on subsidies and public advertisements from April 2020.

It had also directed the city Government to take expeditious steps to provide proper infrastructure for the purpose and said it was mindful that the authorities incur huge money on subsidies and advertisements.

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