National

Coronavirus: Supreme Court to go on digital mode for social distancing

A Bench led by Chief Justice Bobde heard a few cases via videoconferencing on March 23, 2020. File

A Bench led by Chief Justice Bobde heard a few cases via videoconferencing on March 23, 2020. File  

Only two Benches will be made available for hearing extremely urgent cases through a video app

The Supreme Court on Monday decided to further restrict its functioning on account of the COVID-19 scare and resort to the digital mode to maintain social distancing and prevent spread of infection. The court premises would be completely shutdown.

In a meeting among judges, lawyers and the government through the Solicitor General held on Monday, it was decided that only extremely urgent cases would be taken up by a Bench(es) through a video app.

Also read | Interactive map of confirmed coronavirus cases in India

The Supreme Court Bench led by Chief Justice of India Sharad A. Bobde used its extraordinary powers under Article 142 to lift the limitation period for all cases across tribunals and courts in the country until further notice.

“To obviate difficulties and to ensure that lawyers/litigants do not have to come physically to file proceedings in respective courts/tribunals across the country, including this court, it is hereby ordered that a period of limitation in all proceedings, irrespective of the limitation prescribed under the general law or special laws, whether condonable or not, shall stand extended with effect from March 15 till further orders,” the apex court said after taking suo motu cognisance.

A Bench led by Chief Justice Bobde heard a few cases via videoconferencing on Monday. A giant screen, instead of the usual crowd of lawyers and litigants, greeted Chief Justice Bobde and his fellow judges as they entered the courtroom. The screen, placed in front of the judges’ dais, was connected to the Old Court Masters’ Room at another end of the Supreme Court premises. This room was fitted with microphones and screens for lawyers to present their cases to the CJI Bench via videoconferencing.

Also read | ‘Heat is not a deterrent for transmission’: Your COVID-19 queries answered

The meeting on Monday was held by Justices L. Nageswara Rao, Surya Kant and Aniruddha Bose and attended by Supreme Court Bar Association president Dushyant Dave and secretary Ashok Arora, Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association secretary Joseph Aristotle S. and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.

A circular issued by the Supreme Court late on Monday explained that the cases would be heard through an app called ‘Vidyo’.

It said a one-page synopsis of these cases can be sent to the apex court registry via an email id - mention.sc@sci.nic.in. The registry would then forward the mail to the judges on the slotted Bench. Once the case is approved for urgent hearing, it would be listed for the next day. The lawyer concerned would be mailed a video link and he or she can use it to present his case via videoconferencing at an allotted time. The link would lapse automatically by default shortly after the hearing.

If the case is not listed for hearing via videoconferencing, the advocate-on-record concerned would be provided with a telephone number by the registry. The lawyer is free to call the judge between 10.30 and 11 a.m. the following day and directly press his case for urgent hearing.

“Based on the progress made in the next few days, cases pertaining to bail also will be considered to be listed subsequently on priority of urgency basis,” Mr. Aristotle said.

A letter from the Editor


Dear reader,

We have been keeping you up-to-date with information on the developments in India and the world that have a bearing on our health and wellbeing, our lives and livelihoods, during these difficult times. To enable wide dissemination of news that is in public interest, we have increased the number of articles that can be read free, and extended free trial periods. However, we have a request for those who can afford to subscribe: please do. As we fight disinformation and misinformation, and keep apace with the happenings, we need to commit greater resources to news gathering operations. We promise to deliver quality journalism that stays away from vested interest and political propaganda.

Support Quality Journalism
Related Topics
Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | May 26, 2020 12:43:04 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/coronavirus-supreme-court-to-go-digital-mode-for-social-distancing/article31144483.ece

Next Story