New Delhi, Jan 20 | On the issue of resuming physical hearings in the Delhi High Court, the Supreme Court on Wednesday said it trusts the chief justice of the High Court and he will do whatever is required.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S. A. Bobde and comprising Justices A. S Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian said they also want to resume physical hearings, but it is necessary to ask health authorities before taking a decision. “We are not going to take the opinion of advocates on health things”, said the Chief Justice.
The remarks from the top court were made by disposing as withdrawn pleas challenging the Delhi High Court decision to resume physical hearings in the High Court and also the trial court with effect from January 18. Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing petitioners, submitted that a meeting is scheduled with registrar general to discuss the issue and sought adjournment of the matter.
However, the Chief Justice told Sibal to withdraw the plea and approach the Delhi High Court. The Chief Justice expressed that they are also keen to resume physical hearings. “We want to get back to action”, said the Chief Justice, citing the court has asked for medical opinion on resuming physical hearings. Senior advocate Vikas Singh submitted that common man is not getting justice through virtual hearings. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta replied that courts have not denied access to justice to single citizen.
The bench observed that it is aware of the opinion of Bar, and in fact, it has been hearing it for past nine months.
The plea has been filed by practicing lawyers – Kartik Nayar, Nancy Roy, Sachit Jolly and Amit Bhagat — contended to continue with virtual hearing procedure and cited they have been appearing before the courts through virtual mode on a daily basis amid the pandemic.
The petitioners argued that advocates, litigants and non-legal personnel should not be compelled to appear before the court, as it may prove hazardous for their health and well-being.
The Delhi High Court on January 14, said it has decided to increase the number of judges for physical hearings from January 18 onwards and also issued directions to the district courts to begin physical courts on alternate days of the week.
The office order issued by Registrar General Manoj Jain cited the decision of the Full Court of the High Court wherein 11 benches — two division benches and nine single-judge benches – will resume physical hearing January 18 onwards and the remaining benches will continue to take up matters virtually.