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Delhi High Court Issues Covid Guidelines For Physical Court Hearings

“All the visitors including lawyers shall maintain social distancing, the court said (File)

New Delhi:

The Delhi High Court Tuesday issued certain guidelines to be followed upon resumption of physical court hearings from March 15, including that visitors and advocates shall maintain social distancing as per government norms.

A circular issued by the administrative branch of the high court said entry of litigants will be regulated as it was during the pre-COVID-19 pandemic period and facilitation counter/ pass counter will also function in the normal manner.

“All the visitors including lawyers shall maintain social distancing as per norms/ protocol issued by the government of India/ Delhi government and or this court,” it said.

It added that all the gates including the entry and exit gates of underground car parking shall be opened and operated as it was done pre-pandemic period.

Recently, the high court had issued an office order stating that from March 15, all its judges would hold physical hearing of cases.

The existing system under which only 11 benches – two division benches of two judges each and nine single-judge benches – hear matters via the physical mode would continue till March 12, it had said.

The order had also said that in exceptional cases, the high court might permit any of the parties and/ or their lawyers to join the proceedings through video conferencing, subject to the availability of requisite infrastructure.

At present, 11 benches of the high court hold physical courts every day on rotation basis and some of them also hold hybrid proceedings, wherein lawyers have the option to attend the hearing via video conference instead of appearing in person.

The office order had also said that all pending routine or non-urgent matters listed before it from February 22 to March 26 would be adjourned en bloc to dates between April 15 and May 20.

The high court had, on March 25, 2020 restricted its functioning as well as that of the district courts till April 14, 2020 to contain the spread of COVID-19 cases. It was subsequently extended from time to time.

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