The Delhi High Court Thursday said five of its benches will start holding physical courts on a rotation basis from September 1, and issued standard operating procedure (SOP) for it.
The high court, which has been conducting hearings through video conferencing since March 24 to contain the spread of ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, said the remaining benches shall continue taking up matters through the virtual mode.
The cause list will specify in advance the courts which shall take up matters through physical hearing and those through video conferencing.
Though the high court will open on all five days in a week, the benches will sit on rotation basis.
An office order issued by Registrar General Manoj Jain said that while considering the matter regarding resumption of physical functioning of the high court, the suspension of functioning of court has been extended till September 30.
All the pending matters listed before the high court from September 1 to 30 would be adjourned to November 3 to December 7 respectively, the order said.
As per the SOP, the entry in the court blocks for the purpose of attending physical hearings will be restricted to only one advocate per party whose case is listed that day and party-in-person who is pursuing his/her case without any legal assistance.
Besides, senior counsel engaged by any advocate, registered clerks for delivering bulky case files to advocates and standing or nominated counsel for any of the party or entity whose cases are listed for physical hearing that day will be allowed.
Juniors, interns or law students associated with the advocate concerned, relative of any litigant and non-registered clerks will not be allowed entry in the court blocks, the SOP said.
Those litigants who are represented through an advocate will not be allowed entry to the court block, unless specific directions of the court and persons displaying symptoms of flu, fever and cough will not be permitted to enter, it added.
It further said that lawyers, clerks, litigants who are about 65 years of age and those suffering from co-morbidities may refrain from appearing in courts.
All those who will be permitted entry have to mandatorily wear mask all times, undergo thermal screening at the designated entry points, sanitise hands at the time of entry, follow social and physical distancing of six feet and adhere to all directions and guidelines issued by the government in respect of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the SOP, the building will be handed over to the housekeeping staff for deep cleaning and complete sanitisation by 3pm on every working day.
In order to ensure strict adherence to the norm of social distancing, seats in each courtroom have been limited to bare minimum and entry time to any court block shall be regulated as per the time slots mentioned in the cause list for different batches of cases.
It said each batch shall consist of 10 cases and no person shall be permitted entry inside the court blocks before the designated time-slot as per the cause list.
It added that the medical facilities in the form of an additional ambulance with complete infrastructure to tackle COVID-19 emergencies shall be stationed during working hours in the high court.
There will be an earmarked room in the high court dispensary dedicated as COVID-19 isolation room, to be used as and when any person reflecting coronavirus symptoms is found. He or she will be shifted to the isolation room till he or she is taken to the hospital after which the room will be sanitised, the SOP said.Follow our full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic here.