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Remarking that it could not be said that the High Court and its subordinate courts did not rise to the occasion, the Delhi High Court has recorded that till June 9, a total of 41,608 matters were taken up by it and its subordinate courts during the lockdown period. (SB Tripathi vs HC of Delhi)
The numbers were recorded by a Division Bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Subramonium Prasad in its order passed in a PIL moved by Advocate SB Tripathi (Petitioner).
The Petitioner had prayed for a direction to set aside the orders suspending the normal functioning of courts due to COVID-19 pandemic.
It was alleged that no serious efforts were being made on the Administrative side of the High Court to resume normal functioning and hear even non-urgent, regular matters.
The Petitioner thus sought directions to permit electronic filing and hearing of routine matters through video conferencing, both in the High Court and its subordinate courts.
After considering the Petitioner's case, the Court pointed out the irony in the situation and said,
"..the petitioner has shown such an anxiety that not just urgent matters, even routine matters ought to be taken up during the period of the lockdown and on the other hand, it has taken him two rounds of hearing to link up in this matter..repeated efforts made by the petitioner to link up had failed. The matter had to be passed over to await his presence. Even on the second call, the petitioner could join the hearing after much struggle."
In light of the experience, the Court thus questioned the Petitioner that as to how did he propose to link up through video conferencing to address lengthy arguments in routine matters.
Reetesh Singh, OSD (Examination), Delhi High Court informed the Court that till June 9, a total of 41,608 matters had already been taken up by the High Court and its subordinate courts during the lockdown period.
"..during the lockdown period, 3,787 cases have been taken up for hearing by the High Court through video conferencing. Besides remand matters, the Subordinate Courts have taken up 23,339 matters through physical hearing and 14,482 matters through video conferencing.", the Court recorded.
In response to the contention that no serious efforts had been made to resume normal functioning of the courts during the lockdown period, OSD (Examination) added that not less than 30 Administrative Orders had been issued during the lockdown period to streamline hearing of matters by the High Court and the Subordinate Courts.
The Court was also informed that the issue of creation of adequate facilities for the District Courts to hear matters through video conferencing was already a subject matter another pending writ petition.
In view of the above submissions, the Petitioner did not press the petition and sought leave to withdraw the same.
The petition was accordingly disposed of.
Advocate Sanjoy Ghose appeared for the High Court.
Secretary Abhijat appeared on behalf of DHCBA.
Read the order: