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Supreme Court to hear petition challenging physical hearing in Delhi courts tomorrow

Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal submitted that the lawyers will have to balance the right to life with the right to access justice. If physical hearing will be resumed they have to expose themselves to risks.

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Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde on Tuesday said the court understands the gravity of the problem faced by lawyers, while hearing the petition filed by a group of advocates challenging the decision of the Delhi High Court to resume physical hearing.

The Chief Justice said the Supreme Court will not interfere with the administrative decisions taken by the High Court and suggested to the petitioners to approach the Apex Court, if they do not get appropriate remedy from the Chief Justice of the High Court.

“We see the gravity of the problem but we would like you to go to the Delhi HC and if you do not get appropriate remedy you can approach the SC,”

-said CJI Bobde.

Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the petitioners, submitted that the lawyers will have to balance the right to life with the right to access justice. If physical hearing will be resumed, they have to expose themselves to risks, Sibal said. 

The bench comprising CJI Bobde, Justices L. Nageswara Rao and Vineet Saran listed the matter for hearing on Wednesday.

The plea challenging the notification dated 14.01.2021, and roster of physically sitting Judges dated 14.01.2021 along with roster of physically sitting Joint Registrars dated 15.01.2021 issued by the High Court of Delhi, stated that the court compelled the advocates to appear in person without allowing them to choose to appear through virtual mode.

The petition has been filed by practising advocates and esteemed members of the Bar, who have been appearing before the High Court of Delhi and District Courts through virtual mode of hearing on a daily basis, due to the ongoing unprecedented pandemic.

The petitioners have argued that the notification has been issued without any concerns as to the health, life and well-being of the advocates, in the interest of society. It has also been argued that the earlier hybrid system of optional virtual and physical hearing, was accommodating as it catered to the needs of the advocates who preferred to appear in person for their respective matters due to not being able to access proper internet connectivity. 

The hybrid system at the same time also allowed the advocates such as the Petitioners, inclusive of several other advocates, suffering from co-morbidities and/or having someone in their family having major health concerns appear virtually.

Also Read: Supreme Court adjourns hearing of plea against 2017 notification on cattle trade

Moreover over 500 lawyers have signed on a digital form being in favour of continuing with virtual hearing and opposed the notification.Hence the petitioners have urged the Court to issue directions to  the High Court of Delhi to set aside the impugned notification and allow the advocates to choose and accordingly appear through virtual mode of hearing.

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