Chandigarh, October 1
Nearly 18 months after the Punjab and Haryana High Court shifted to virtual mode of hearing cases following the Covid outbreak, on Thursday it inched closer to normal functioning with the Chief Justice making it clear that 50 per cent of the Benches would hear the cases “physically” from Monday.
An order issued on behalf of Chief Justice Ravi Shanker Jha by Registrar-General Sanjiv Berry indicated that 19 Benches would “hold the court through physical hearing”. In all, 39 Benches, comprising 45 judges, are currently holding court through videoconferencing and physical mode. As of now, 12 Benches are hearing cases physically.
The High Court had shifted to the virtual mode of hearing in March-end last year. Limited physical hearing was ordered to be resumed from February 8, but it had to be suspended as the second wave took in its grip High Court judges, judicial officers in the subordinate judiciary, advocates and staff. The High Court was forced to go back to restrictive functioning from April 19. But all Benches kept on functioning through the virtual mode.
Following a “massive surge” in cases, the working had to be restricted further from April 28. But all Benches resumed functioning through the virtual mode from July 28 with the reduction in the severity of the second wave.
Amid apprehensions of a third wave, the High Court decided to partially resume physical hearing of cases from September 6, with two Division Benches and 10 single Benches designated for hearing of cases through the physical mode. The High Court at that time made it clear that four single Benches would take up writ petitions and civil matters, while six would take up criminal matters.
Punjab and Haryana High Court Bar president GDS Dhillon said the advocates had since long been demanding the resumption of physical hearing of cases. — TNS
Shifted to virtual mode last year
The HC had shifted to the virtual mode of hearing in March-end last year. Limited physical hearing was ordered to be resumed from February 8, but it had to be suspended as the second wave took in its grip High Court judges, judicial officers and staff