Allahabad High Court
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Allahabad HC issues Additional Guidelines for virtual hearings; physical hearings suspended at Lucknow Bench due to COVID case spike

By an order dated July 4, 2020, the Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court suspended physical hearings at the Court Complex at Lucknow.

Lydia Suzanne Thomas

The Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court has suspended physical hearings at the Court Complex at Lucknow.

The order dated July 4 was issued following a report of the Committee constituted to study the issues relating to Lucknow Courts and given the rise in COVID-19 infections in the city. All cases allotted to the Lucknow Bench will be heard solely via video conferencing, it has been informed.

The Principal Bench of the Allahabad High Court, meanwhile, released additional guidelines to be followed during virtual case hearings by a notice issued today.

The Court had commenced physical hearings following and order dated June 6, with an option given to attend hearings virtually as well. Today’s notice releases additional guidelines for virtual hearings at the Court.

The Court has allocated certain portions of the Court Complex to be “onsite facilities”, while identified e-sewa kendras across Pragyaraj city are set to become dedicated virtual hearing cubicles “offsite”.

Advocates who opt to appear in Court via video have been given the option of utilising the Court’s onsite virtual hearing facilities or attending virtual hearings from their offices, residences, or any of the offsite facilities.

However, where competing requests for onsite and offsite hearings are received by the Court, the onsite facilities are required to be utilised. This requirement may be dispensed with if the counsel subsequently concede to availing offsite facilities.

Advocates will have to specify their preference for on/off-site hearings by 1 pm on the day prior to the date of hearing. If they request a virtual hearing after the time specified, the case hearing for that day will be adjourned to another date, the order states.

Further, the notice specifies that weblinks for virtual hearings will be sent only to advocates using the Court’s offsite facilities, as the onsite facilities would already be connected to the Court’s system.

Though the notice states that sanitized headsets will be made available at onsite facilities, it recommends that each lawyer brings her own headset with a “noise-canceling” microphone “considering the sanitization burden” on the Court’s equipment.

Read the Orders here:

Allahabad HC (Lucknow) Order dated July 4.pdf
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Instructions for VC at Allahabad HC (Principal Bench) dated July 6, 2020 [Without Annexures].pdf
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