The Delhi High Court on Thursday issued the Standard Operating Procedure for the resumption of physical hearings from September 1, Bar and Bench reported. The court said that five benches will hold the court hearings on a rotational basis, while the remaining benches will continue hearing matters virtually.

The court has been conducting hearings through video conferencing since March 24, when a countrywide lockdown was imposed to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

In a separate notice, the High Court said the suspension of the physical functioning of other benches of the court has been extended till September 30. The order, issued by Registrar General Manoj Jain, stated that all pending matters listed before the court between September 1 and September 30 would be adjourned to the period between November 3 and December 7, according to PTI.

Entry of visitors

Under the guidelines, entry to the court blocks for the purpose of attending physical hearings will be restricted to only one advocate per party, or the party-in-person, who is pursuing their case without any legal assistance. Juniors, interns, or law students associated with the advocate, relative of any litigant and non-registered clerks, however, would not be allowed entry.

The court has asked all advocates, party-in-person and registered clerks above the age of 65 and those suffering from comorbidities, to refrain from appearing in courts. “Persons displaying symptoms of flu, fever, cough, etc, shall not be permitted entry inside the court complex,” it added.

All individuals are expected to adhere to physical distancing and hygiene norms while inside the court complex, the SOP said.

Matters to be heard

All benches, irrespective of whether they are conducting proceedings physically or virtually, will take up matters based on the High Court roster. This includes urgent matters as well as non-urgent matters that were filed during the lockdown. However, the number of cases listed under non-urgent matters, will be restricted to three to five before each bench, the court said.

Besides this, the court will also hear regular matters where the consent for final hearing has been received from both parties of the case. The causelist for physical hearing shall not exceed 25 cases, the SOP said. The court buildings will be completely sanitised by the housekeeping staff by 3pm on every working day.

Entry timings, rules

Entry inside the court premises would be permitted only from the designated entry points, the High Court’s SOP said. A copy of the causelist shall be available at the designated counter near the entry point of the particular court block.

The Delhi High Court Bar Association will provide all necessary assistance in this regard by deputing advocates on a rotational basis to facilitate the management of people. The SOP added that once the High Court finishes hearing the matter, the advocate/ party-in-person would immediately exit the premises from the designated exit point.

Entry time to any court block shall be regulated as per the time slots mentioned in the causelist for different batches of cases, and each batch will consist of 10 cases, the court said. No person shall be permitted entry inside the court blocks before the designated time-slot as per the causelist.

On the timing, the High Court said that the hearing in the first batch will begin at 10 am. There would be a break between hearing of each batch of cases in order to facilitate the sanitisation of the courtrooms and other areas, it added.

Entry in the courtroom shall be permitted to those advocates/party-in person whose matter is called out for hearing and also for the advocates whose item is the immediate next, subject to availability of space.The other advocates shall wait outside the courtroom in the designated area, the court said.

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