Covid-19: Courts to hear emergency cases on video conf, suspend regular functioning

Over a week ago the Supreme Court of India decided to only hear urgent cases, and conduct court matters over video conferencing. On March 23 television news reports flashed that lawyers have been told not to  visit judges chambers. 


Delhi is under lockdown in an effort to break the Covid-19 contamination chain and contain the spread of Coronavirus, and the city may get further restrictions in the days to come. The Bar Council of Delhi has also asked the Delhi High Court to consider total shutdown till March 31, and declare it as a court vacation, reported Bar and Bench, a legal news portal.  “Even though the urgent matters are listed before the courts, the situation is similar as observed during the vacations. However, since there is no official declaration of holidays, the advocates and litigants do come to courts. In this situation, it may be considered to go for a total shutdown for the period upto 31.03.2020 which should be declared as vacation,” stated the council.

A few hours later the Delhi High Court suspended its regular functioning, and those of its subordinate courts till April 4, 2020. According to the notice posted on the High Court website this move has come as a part of the steps already taken by the court to, “combat the impending threat of coronavirus (2019-nCOV) and considering the prevalent situation, particularly in view of the lockdown declared by the Government in the National Capital Territory of Delhi.”

It has also stated that it considered the requests made by Bar Associations seeking the complete closure of courts. “In case of any fresh matter of extreme urgency, the Registrar/Joint Registrar (Filing) and Registrar/Joint Registrar (Original) of this Court be contacted telephonically,” any urgent matter will now be heard over video conference it added. The numbers of the court officers who can be contacted have been made public in the notice available here:

All district and sessions judges have also been asked to prepare a roster of  judicial officials to deal with urgent cases of fresh arrests. Here too, a judicial officer will be nominated for each district and will be reachable over the telephone only by the lawyers and their clients.

Cases already fixed for hearing before April 4 will be, “ adjourned en-bloc to subsequent dates.”

Meanwhile, Delhi’s Tihar Jail is set to release around 3000 inmates this week. “Of these, 1500 convicts will be released on parole and other 1500 undertrial prisoners to be released on interim bail,” news agency ANI, has quoted the Tihar Jail administration.

The Delhi Government had approached the High Court to grant special parole to convicts to “decongest prisons.” According to Press Trust of India the bench took note and, “directed the Delhi government to take steps during the day to implement what it has proposed and disposed of a plea moved by two lawyers seeking decongesting of the prisons in view of the coronavirus pandemic.” 



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