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Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Delhi HC judge bars public, media from virtual hearings

The order, according to the court, was passed after “a very unpleasant situation came” before the court during the hearing of a case on September 21.

Written by Sofi Ahsan | New Delhi | Updated: September 29, 2020 10:58:32 am
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A SINGLE-JUDGE bench of the Delhi High Court has barred the general public, including the media, from viewing court proceedings and directed court officials to provide virtual hearings links only to advocates, investigating officers and parties attending the matters in-person.

“I hereby direct Registry/Court Master to not provide the link to video conferencing to any other person or correspondent and the same shall be provided only to advocates concerned, IO concerned, parties in person in case the petition is filed for quashing, and to the persons specifically directed by this Court to join the proceedings,” Justice Suresh Kumar Kait said in an order.

The order, according to the court, was passed after “a very unpleasant situation came” before the court during the hearing of a case on September 21.

“Certain unidentified persons joined the proceedings through VC and could be heard talking continuously, thereby creating hindrance in hearing the submission of counsels and proper justice dispensation,” the order reads.

A request sent to Justice Kait’s Court Master by The Indian Express on Sunday evening and Monday morning for a video link to the court proceedings was declined.

“As per order dated 21.09.2020… of our court, link will be provided only to the counsel concerned… kindly check that order…,” the court staff responded in a message.

The order passed by the court also bars advocates from sharing the link with anyone else except senior advocates or advocates appearing on their behalf.

The Delhi HC, like other HCs in the country, is holding virtual hearings due to the Covid outbreak but is among few courts to allow the public to view proceedings on request.

The High Court of Delhi Rules for Video Conferencing for Courts 2020 permit public viewing of court proceedings, except proceedings ordered — for reasons recorded in writing — to be conducted in-camera.

In a circular issued on June 20, the HC said the links will be offered for public viewing so long as the stability of the system is not disturbed, and asked those interested in obtaining links for viewing court hearings to contact the Court Master concerned or court official on their mobile phone numbers published in the cause list a day before, and at most by morning of the day on which the case is listed.

“Those who are given link for viewing court proceedings will ensure their mic is kept on mute mode and the video on switch-off mode,” reads the circular.

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