The district judge of Tis Hazari Court, who is the administrative head of all trial courts in Delhi, on Sunday issued an advisory protocol to minimize the scope of physical interaction between judicial officers on duty and other stakeholders in view of the coronavirus outbreak in the country, requesting advocates and litigants to address arguments through video conference.
District and Sessions Judge Girish Kathpalia, however, clarified that the procedure should be adopted only with consent of all stakeholders, and hearings may be allowed only in cases of extreme urgency.
In the first week of lockdown in the country, some judges heard bail matters in courtrooms with advocates from both sides being present there.
Keeping in mind the extraordinary circumstances prevalent these days due to Covid19 pandemic, the advisory protocol is designed in order to minimize the scope of physical interaction between the Judicial Officers on duty and other stakeholders, concerning the Central District in Tis Hazari Courts Complex, said Judge Kathpalia in the circular issued by him.
The circular said that only after the administrative officer (judicial) (AO(J)) is satisfied that a matter is of extreme urgency, the advocates or the litigants shall be asked to send complete paperbook, like bail or stay applications and other documents in pdf format to the e-mail- email@example.com, which shall be under the control of the AO(J).
If the advocate/litigant agrees to address arguments through videoconferencing, AO(J) shall fix time, preferably the next day and shall communicate the same to the judicial officers (Additional District Judges and Additional Sessions Judges) on duty as well as the prosecutor concerned over phone as well as by e-mail, it said.
The AO(J) shall transmit the paper book to the judicial officer and the Prosecutor on duty by e-mail immediately upon receipt thereof. Along with the paper-book, the AO(J) shall also transmit e-mail id of the said advocate/litigant and Prosecutor concerned to the judicial officer on duty, it said.
During the hearing, the Judicial Officer shall log in Zoom Cloud Meetings application and shall send the URL to the parties, including the stenographer of the judicial officer, through Zoom itself, so they can join from home, the circular said.
Either in the presence of both sides or soon after the arguments, the judicial officer shall dictate the order to the stenographer over phone call or videoconferencing.
The stenographer shall, after typing the order, send the same by email to the judicial officer, who shall sign it after taking printout or shall append digital signatures on the same and shall send either the digitally signed order or scanned copy of the signed order by email to the AO(J) on the dedicated email, it said.
The circular further said that the AO(J) should immediately transmit the digitally signed order or its scanned copy to the parties and the computer branch for being uploaded on the website.