The advocates of West Bengal have requested the Calcutta High Court to provide an option of the hybrid mode of hearing the cases in view of the alarming heatwaves in the State.

The concerned advocates in a letter dated April 18, 2023, have mentioned the fact that Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud has also talked about the continuation of the hybrid platforms which makes the judiciary more accessible to a larger section of people.

The letter addressing Acting Chief Justice and Companion Justices of the High Court says, “We, the undersigned members of the Bar, humbly submit this representation to bring to Your Lordships' kind attention the challenges faced by the litigants, learned advocates, and their clerks due to the prevailing scorching heat and unbearable weather condition in Kolkata and its adjoining areas. With utmost respect and in the best interest of the administration of justice, we earnestly request Your Lordships to consider our request for a hybrid platform for hearing cases before the Hon'ble High Court of Calcutta.”

It is further pointed out in the said letter that the option of a hybrid mode of hearing cases be made available to members of the Bar and the litigants in general who wish to avail themselves of the same.

“As Your Lordships may be aware, the Bar Associations of some Trial Courts in West Bengal have passed resolutions requesting the Learned Court "not to pass any adverse order" in the absence of advocates and/or litigants from 18.04.2023 till 21.04.2023. However, we believe that the Hon'ble High Court at Calcutta should remain fully functional with the aid and assistance of appropriate digital technologies even during this difficult time”, says the letter.

The advocates have said that in spite of the encouragement of the Chief Justice of India, some Courts are not granting virtual links of hearing, even after advocates have filled out forms to avail themselves of hybrid/virtual bearings.

“We are encouraged by the advocacy of the Hon'ble Chief Justice of India, D Y Chandrachud, for the continuation of hybrid platforms, as it makes the judiciary more accessible to a larger section of people. The Hon'ble Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud has also observed on many occasions that the functioning of courts via hybrid mode has increased the productivity of the learned members of the Bar. On 5th April 2023, the Hon'ble Chief Justice has further observed that lawyers are free to appear virtually in view of the rising COVID cases”, they said.

The advocates have requested the Court to take proactive steps towards the digitization of the Judiciary in West Bengal and allow lawyers to appear in a hybrid mode, so that courts become more accessible to everyone, and the Judiciary can remain functional even during such adverse weather conditions.

The letter also says, “During the Covid 19 pandemic, we have seen that the hybrid mode of hearing has facilitated the smooth functioning of courts while saving human lives. We believe that this model can be replicated to save human lives from the alarming heatwaves throughout the State of West Bengal while keeping the courts functional.”

Hence, the advocates requested the Court to allow its functioning through the hybrid mode and further prayed that the virtual links of Courts be displayed in the cause list itself, and/or the time for filling the online form for applying for a virtual hearing be allowed until 10:30 a.m.

“We hope and pray that our representation will receive Your Lordships' kind and empathetic consideration for the interest of Justice”, requested the advocates.