The Delhi District and Sessions Judge (HQ) issued an Advisory Protocol on 29.03.2020 followed by Orders dated 19.04.2020 and 04.05.2020, in respect of advocates and litigants to address arguments through video conference as a precaution due to prevalent COVID-19 pandemic, in order to minimize the scope of physical interaction between the judicial Officers on duty and other stakeholders. It was clarified that the procedure should be adopted only with consent of all stakeholders, and hearings may be allowed, not only in case of extreme urgency but for all kinds of urgent matters. The circular stated that Judicial Officer on duty shall decide the question of urgency in the matters filed.
The matter can be filed through an email, which shall be controlled by Administrative Officer (Judicial) (AO(J)).The advocates or the litigants shall send complete paperbook in the form of an attachment consisting of scanned copies of pleadings, duly sworn affidavits, Vakalatnama and other documents in pdf format to the dedicated e-mail- email@example.com of the AO(J). Once the lockdown ends, the original paperbook needs to be filed within 15 days of the Court resuming functioning. The defects will be identified by AO(J) and will be communicated to litigants for rectification by email and once the urgent matter is registered, the AO(J) shall forward the complete paperbook to the Co-Ordinator. The Co-Ordinator shall immediately forward the paperbooks received to the Judicial Officer posted on duty next day. Furthermore, if the Judicial Officer is satisfied that the matter is urgent, the Co-Ordinator shall get the matter listed the next day at a fixed time to be heard through video conferencing over "Cisco Webex", after communicating the same to the Judicial Officers on duty as well as the Prosecutor/Litigants/Counsels concerned over phone and/or email.
On the day of hearing, the Co-Ordinator shall log in a meeting at Cisco Webex five minutes before the schedule time, and send the URL and meeting number over email and/or Whatsapp to the concerned Judicial Officers, Advocates/Litigants/Counsel/Prosecutor. The proceedings shall be recorded by the Co-Ordinator and will be preserved after the hearing in the matter is over. Further steps for reserving and uploading of order were also stipulated in the said circulars.
To aid hearing, a setup has been enabled in the Court premises of every District, where lawyers can avail themselves the required infrastructure and facilities for conducting hearing through video conferencing. In case, an applicant insists to address arguments by way of physical presence, in that case written arguments not exceeding 5 pages may be filed after serving advance copy to opposite side. On the day of hearing, only the parties and counsels may enter into courtroom strictly adhering to social distancing norms.
It is clarified that these directions/order are in addition to and not in derogation of existing system of filing hard copies of pleadings and addressing arguments in person before Judicial Officers.