Taking suo moto cognizance of the alarming rate in which Covid-19 cases have increased in India, the Full Bench of the Hon'ble Delhi High Court in Court on its own motion vs. State (Govt. of N.C.T. of Delhi)1 proceeded to extend the validity of all the interim orders that were either subsisting as on April 19, 2021 or had expired on April 19, 2021. This order of the Hon'ble Court includes all the cases that are pending adjudication before the Delhi High Court as well as all the courts subordinate to it.
This order comes shortly after the Delhi High Court's Office Order No. 1/R/RG/DHC/2021 dated April 18, 2021, wherein it was announced that in view of the resurgence of Covid-19 cases, from April 19, 2021 all the benches of the court shall only take up extremely urgent matters that were filed in the year 2021, and all the other cases shall be adjourned en bloc i.e. all the same time.2
Extend Validity of all Interim Orders
On Monday i.e. April 19, 2021, the Government of NCT of Delhi had announced a State vide curfew effective from 10:00 P.M. on April 19 till April 26, 2021. This curfew order of the Government announced strong measures to be implemented for the purpose of controlling the spread of Covid.
In view of the curfew imposed as well as the extremely limited functioning of Courts, the advocates and the litigants would not be in a position to appear in their matters, including those where stay, bail or parole have been granted by the High Court, or the Courts Subordinate to it, on or before March 19, 2021. Due to this reason, interim orders functioning in favour of the parties would start expiring on and from April 19, 2021. We would like to mention here that it seems there is a typographical error in the Court's order where it says "...on or before March 19, 2021" when in fact it should be April 19, 2021, which is the day from which the Office Order is effective.
Furthermore, relying upon a similar order passed by the High Court last year in Court on its own motion vs. State & Ors.- In re: Extension of Interim orders3, the Full bench observed that the situation that has arisen presently, is similar to how it was last year, and therefore it requires a similar response.
Therefore, taking suo moto cognizance under Article 226 and 227 of the Constitution, the Hon'ble Court ordered that "in all pending matters, before this High Court and the Courts subordinate to it, wherein such interim orders issued were subsisting as on 19.04.2021 and expired or will expire thereafter, the same shall stand automatically extended till 16.07.2021 or until further orders, except where any orders to the contrary have been passed by the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India in any particular matter, during the intervening period."
To a large extent it will provide relief to under-trial prisoners, who have been granted interim bail by the Hon'ble Court during the period mentioned in the Court's order
It was also clarified that in case, the extension of interim orders causes any hardship of an extreme nature to a party to such proceeding, they would be at liberty to seek suitable relief.
The Writ Petition has now been listed on July 16, 2021, where in our opinion, the Court may consider either extending its orders further or ending the extension, contingent on how the Covid-19 situation will be like by then
1. W.P. (C) 4921/2021
3. W.P. (C) No. 3037/2020
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