The Delhi High Court on Tuesday asserted that from March 15 onwards, virtual hearings would be the exception and not the norm, ordering that whenever a request for a hybrid/video conferencing hearing is made, the party concerned should not only state the exceptional circumstance, but also indicate his/her geographic location. .A Division Bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli said, "While making the requests, parties should clearly set out the exceptional circumstance/case and also indicate their geographic location from where they would be joining (the video conferencing hearing). Mere absence of the counsel or party within the NCT of Delhi may not be a sufficient ground for making a request for VC hearing.".The Court clarified that allowing or declining virtual hearing would be the discretion of the judge(s) concerned and no personal hearing in this regard would be entertained. "As far as what would constitute an exceptional circumstance, would have to be left to discretion of the judge(s) before whom request is made. However, to put to rest any uncertainty, it would be appropriate that such a request is made at least one working day in advance...".The Court nonetheless added that insofar as young mothers are concerned, their request for virtual hearing for the reason that they cannot leave their homes would be "examined compassionately" by the concerned judge(s)..It further stated that parties requesting for virtual hearing would now do so at their own peril. "...it would fall upon the concerned parties/counsel to ensure that the hearing of the case when taken up by the Court is not abstracted or defeated on account of his/her not being physically available in court for any reason whatsoever. In case of poor connectivity, the Court would not be obliged to adjourn the proceedings. Similarly, in case any documents or copies of decision etc are to be provided to the court at the time of the hearing, it should be the obligation of the parties/counsel to ensure that the same are circulated well in advance... hearing through video conferencing should not become a stumbling block in the progress of the case once physical hearing resumes...", the order stated..The order was passed in a petition seeking to defer complete physical hearings in the High Court and subordinate courts at least till the first phase of the vaccination process of all lawyers is completed..The Court today noted that while there was no infrastructure in subordinate courts to support hybrid hearing, even in the High Court, out of 25 courtrooms, only 13 rooms had the facility. .It thus directed the administrative side of the High Court to provide adequate infrastructure and install systems in all 25 courtrooms where regular physical hearing would resume. "We direct the High Court to provide adequate infrastructure and install systems in all 25 courtrooms where regular physical hearing would resume... Implicitly in the Full Court decision, is the decision that each court would have the facility of holding hybrid hearing. Only if such facility is available, the request for hybrid hearings or video conferencing can be entertained in exceptional cases.".In its order, the Court also noted that it was high time that courts also resume physical hearing. "Beginning has to be made and the fear that has set in into the minds of the people should not be a reason," it said. .To regulate the crowd, the Court has also suggested that two causelists be released by the courts - one for the pre-lunch and another for the post-lunch session..Before the next date of hearing, as per the Court's direction, the Delhi government shall file an affidavit on steps taken by it to provide infrastructure to subordinate courts for hybrid hearings. .The Court also sought a report from subordinate courts on the extent of footfall and crowding in the first week of physical hearing..During the course of the hearing, several lawyers including Senior Advocates Geeta Luthra, Rajiv Nayar, Chander Lall, and AS Chandhiok made submissions in support of hybrid hearings. .[Physical v. Hybrid] Bar has to speak in one voice: Delhi High Court asks DHCBA to arrive at consensus on nature of hearings.Senior Advocate Mohit Mathur and Advocate Abhijat, President and Honorary Secretary of the Delhi High Court Bar Association respectively, stated that the Bar Association was not in opposition to the adoption of hybrid mode provided proper and responsible infrastructure is provided for the same..Senior Advocate Vikas Singh, who appeared for the coordination committee of all District Bar Associations, also reiterated that convenience could not be a ground for the continuation of the present system. .Senior Advocate Ramesh Gupta, Chairperson of the Bar Council of Delhi, added,"They are in convenience zone. There is no problem. Sitting in London...sitting in Goa and doing cases. They say Delhi is polluted.".Advocate Viraj Datar appeared for the High Court..The matter will be heard next on March 24.