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The statement was made by the Court in the order passed in a petition concerning video conferencing facilities in Delhi district courts during COVID-19 pandemic.
Observing that procurement of resources, such as routers, to conduct virtual hearing was the "need of the hour", the Delhi High Court on Wednesday remarked that Delhi Government's stand was causing inconvenience to lawyers, litigants and the subordinate judiciary. (Anand Vaid vs Preety Vaid vs Ors)
The statement was made by a Division Bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Subramonium Prasad in the order passed in a petition concerning video conferencing facilities in Delhi district courts during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Following the orders passed by the Court, Delhi Government had sanctioned over Rs 6 crore for the digitization of District Court records and upgrading the existing internet connection to 1gbps in all District Court complexes.
Today, Additional Standing Counsel for Delhi Government, Advocate Anupam Srivastava stated that the two urgent proposals by the District Court on the procurement of manual-attached storage and routers, both essential for conducting Virtual Courts, were yet to be cleared as their financial implications were above Rs one crore.
It was explained that in terms of an order of the Finance Department, Government of Delhi, an expenditure of over Rs one crore required appropriate sanction from the Council of Ministers.
Reetesh Singh, OSD (Examination) and Virender Kumar Bansal, Chairman, Centralised Computer Committee, District Court stated that the proposals fell under the funds which are already available with the District Courts and only a formal approval for spending money was required from the Delhi Government.
To get clarity on the issue, the Court sought the presence of the Secretary (Finance), Delhi Government. However, Secretary (Finance) was held up in a meeting with the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly and a request was made to defer orders till the next date.
Meanwhile, Delhi High Court Bar Association, which was represented by its President, Senior Advocate Mohit Mathur and Secretary, Advocate Abhijat, stated that the legal community and the litigants were facing great difficulty in participating virtually in matters listed before the Judges of the District Courts.
The Court was informed that in the absence of adequate bandwidth, the Judges were using the CISCO Webex app which provided a slot of 40 minutes at one time. Thus, halfway through the arguments, parties are automatically delinked and the whole process has to be undertaken again.
DHCBA submitted that the Delhi Government be called upon to take expeditious steps to clear the pending proposals in relation to seamless hearing in virtual courts.
The Court observed that all the pending proposals in question relating to the District Courts had been pending at the end of the Delhi Government since the year 2018.
Remarking that courts had to resort to virtual hearigs due to COVID-19, the Court stated,
To save time and to ensure expeditious disposal of pending issues, the Court directed that any correspondence exchanged between the District Judge (Headquarters) and the Delhi Government shall be preferably conducted electronically.
To await the presence of the Secretary (Finance). Delhi Government, the hearing was adjourned till July 31.
Read the Order: