In a plea highlighting the suffering of litigants due to the restricting of court functioning in light of the coronavirus outbreak, the Delhi High Court has agreed to consider the option of allowing advocates to appear through video-conferencing.
The Division Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Hari Shankar will next take up the matter on April 21.
Moved by an 82 year old woman Jamna Datwani, the petition seeks quashing of the notifications issued by the Delhi High Court, as well as tribunals such as NCLT and NCLAT, which have directed for restricting the functioning of the courts to urgent matters.
'segregating matters as urgent and not urgent additionally results in the loss of faith of the general public in the justice delivery system', the petition says.
The Petitioner has termed the said precautionary measure taken by the court as ineffective, as the effective measures to contain the spread of coronavirus is negated the moment an urgent matter is heard in which a party is infected. It is submitted that:
'Every matter is urgent to the litigants concerned… given the current state of affairs it is pertinent to draw up solutions that tackle the issue more effectively, without adversely affecting the functioning of the courts, the justice delivery system, the litigants and the advocates.'
The Petitioner has cited the issues of pendency of cases and the practice of adjournments to argue that such long breaks in case hearings is detrimental to litigants, lawyers as well as to the cause of justice.
'Due to the fallibility of human memory, it is not appropriate that a matter, when partially heard, be rolled over to some date 2-4 months away. This results in a washing out of the entire matter in the memory of the Hon'ble Judges, as well as the parties' advocates'
It is argued by the Petitioner that such adjournments in cases, or inability of the court to hear the matter on the listed date, frustrates the lawyer, who has to prepare for a matter, only to find out that the matter has been adjourned for 2-3 months.
In light of these claims, the Petitioner has mooted for letting advocates appear before courts through video conferencing.