All the judges started holding physical hearings from Monday while continuing the hybrid system.
The high court has been holding proceedings through video conferencing since March 2020 following the COVID-19 outbreak. Later, few benches started holding physical courts daily on a rotation basis.
Some of them are also holding hybrid proceedings, wherein lawyers have the option to attend the hearing via video conference instead of appearing in person.
On November 18, the high court issued its standard operating procedure (SOP) to regulate the entry of lawyers and litigants inside the court building and said that those displaying symptoms of flu, fever, and cough shall not be allowed.
In the protocol issued by Registrar General Manoj Jain, the high court has clarified that no litigant, who is represented by a lawyer, would be permitted entry unless there is a specific direction.
It has also said that those coming to the high court have to strictly follow social distancing norms and wear masks at all times. The SOP also made it clear that advocates, party-in-person, and registered clerks above the age of 65 years and those suffering from co-morbidities may refrain from physically appearing in courts.
"No litigant, who is represented by an advocate, would be permitted entry unless there is specific direction by the court. The advocates, party-in-person, and registered clerks above the age of 65 years and those suffering from co-morbidities may refrain from appearing in courts. Persons displaying symptoms of flu, fever, cough, etc. shall not be permitted entry inside the court complex," the SOP has said. October 29, the high court had said that it would resume complete physical hearings from November 22 while continuing to give an option to parties to request for video conferencing mode.
Restricting the entry of the number of lawyers who can physically appear in a given case, the SOP has stated that only one advocate accompanied by one junior or intern per party will be permitted. Senior counsel engaged by any such advocate, a registered clerk, for the limited purpose of delivering heavy and bulky case files, and any party appearing in person shall also be given entry. Besides, standing/nominated counsel for any entity whose cases are listed for physical hearing will be permitted.
Once the matter is over, the advocate/party-in-person shall immediately leave from the designated exit point, the protocol has added.
It has further stated that lawyer's chambers shall remain open in a staggered manner and caretaking/ housekeeping staff shall ensure deep cleaning and complete sanitization of the court buildings. The protocol also informed that medical facilities in the form of an additional Ambulance with a complete infrastructure to tackle COVID-19 emergencies shall be stationed during working hours in the high court. Complete physical hearings were resumed in the high court from March 15, 2021, but on April 8, it was ordered that matters would be taken up through virtual mode only on account of the second wave.
In August, the high court again announced that it would start physical hearings in a restricted manner from August 31, following which two division benches and 10 single-judge benches conducted proceedings physically and the remaining benches continued to take up matters through video conferencing.