In a recent matter before the Delhi High Court, Justice Prathiba M Singh ruled that NCLT and NCLAT can regulate their own, and cannot be forced to give out links. However, parties would be permitted to join and view the proceedings as far as possible. For getting a link, they are expected to send an e-mail 24 hours in advance to the Deputy Registrar of the NCLT/NCLAT. The court also stated that the parties that are being allowed to attend are expected to maintain the discipline of virtual hearings and not cause any unnecessary disturbance.
The matter was brought up by Advocate Deepak Khosla himself. He asked the court to direct the two tribunals to give out open or virtual links for attending their hearings. The claim was backed by the contention that the tribunals should satisfy the definition of an ‘open court’. This was a general request because the petitioner wished to attend a particular proceeding before the NCLAT. The counsel for the tribunals argued that they operate on a limited bandwidth of 100 MBPS. In such a case, it was necessary to regulate their links.
The court agreed with the tribunals’ contentions and ruled that:
“Considering the overall facts and circumstances, it is directed that the NCLT and NCLAT may regulate their own procedure for virtual hearing platforms so long as it is ensured that if any particular party requests for a link, the same is considered in a fair, transparent and non-arbitrary manner. To the extent possible, parties would be permitted to view the proceedings. Those parties who join the proceedings are expected to maintain the discipline of virtual hearing and not cause unnecessary disturbance during the same.
The affidavit filed, in any case states that very soon, the NCLAT would also start physical hearing of matters. Since virtual hearings are a measure adopted to ensure that Tribunals and Courts are functioning during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Petitioner, if he wishes to join any particular hearing, may write an e-mail at least 24 hours in advance to the Deputy Registrar of the NCLT and NCLAT. The same shall be considered in accordance with the NCLT and NCLAT’s own procedure, in a fair, transparent and non-arbitrary manner.”