Bar Council of Delhi to hold meeting on completely reverting to physical mode of court hearings

The Delhi High Court from January 18 had increased to 11 the number of benches which would daily hear matters via the physical mode
Last Updated 31 January 2021, 11:40 IST

The Bar Council of Delhi (BCD) on Sunday decided to hold a meeting of the presidents of all bar associations in the national capital to work out a course of action for completely reverting to the physical mode of hearing by courts and tribunals here.

BCD Chairman Ramesh Gupta said the meeting on February 6 was being held as the Delhi High Court has not acceded to its categorical request to open all courts and tribunals completely in the physical mode by the first week of February.

In a media statement, Gupta claimed that it has not been done due to the "pressure of some affluent advocates who have consolidated their work while sitting abroad or in their farmhouses or hill stations and are against the physical working" of courts.

The lawyers' body chairman further alleged that the affluent lawyers were insisting on a hybrid system, where both physical and virtual modes of hearings take place together, "to manipulate more and more work at the cost of others."

The BCD chairman's statement comes two days after senior advocate and former Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) president Vikas Singh wrote afresh to the Chief Justice of India, S A Bobde, seeking restarting of physical hearing at the earliest, saying it was almost a near-normal situation in the country and there was no justification for the Supreme Court to still function in the virtual mode.

In a letter written to the CJI, Singh said if an immediate response was not received in this regard, the lawyers shall be compelled to come to the apex court lawns for a peaceful protest.

Gupta, in his statement, has said that while BCD was grateful to Delhi HC for acceding to its demand to increase physical hearing in January, the decision not to revert to the pre-Covid working mode despite repeated requests made by the Bar was "certainly against the interest of the common advocate and the spirit of open court and lacks transparency".

The Delhi High Court from January 18 had increased to 11 the number of benches which would daily hear matters via the physical mode.

It also directed the subordinate courts to conduct physical hearings every alternate day from January 18.

However, on January 22, after some lawyers approached the Supreme Court against the High Court decision, it decided to put in place the hybrid system of hearing.

The new system was run on an experimental basis in the court of Justice Prathiba M Singh on January 25 and January 27.

Gupta said that BCD "cannot sit as a silent spectator" and therefore, has decided to convene a meeting of all Bar presidents on February 6 at 3:00 pm at its office in the High Court complex to decide the course of action for reverting completely to the physical mode of hearing.

(Published 31 January 2021, 11:40 IST)

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