With the rise in pending cases, the Supreme Court will hear transfer petitions arising out of bail orders with respect to offences punishable up to seven years of imprisonment from May 13. Till now, the Supreme Court had a minimum of two judges hearing any case.
This is a significant development as for the first time since its inception a single judge bench will hear transfer petitions and special leave petitions. The single-judge bench will hear appeals of bail and anticipatory bail petitions in cases that involve offences liable for punishment of not more than a seven-year jail term. In September last year, the Supreme Court amended its rules to allow a single judge hear bail, anticipatory bail and transfer petitions.
According to the law ministry, till July last year, the court had more than 11.5 lakh pending cases.
Earlier, due to the coronavirus lockdown, the Supreme Court is hearing matters of extreme urgency through video conferencing on Skype, Facetime and WhatsApp applications. A circular in March, issued by top court's secretary-general, had said that for all matters involving extreme urgency the Advocate on Record (AOR) or party-in-person was required to first file the petition or an application, preferably through the e-filing mode. Then, he had to file another application containing a synopsis of extreme urgency.
"Since the prevailing situation demands that persons be discouraged from undertaking any kind of journey/travel, the apex court registry is taking all steps necessary to conduct the hearings through remote video conferencing links, and hence AORs/Parties-in-persons are advised to refrain from exercising the option of participating in the hearing through video conferencing link facility available at the SC premises for the present, as that would entail unnecessary and avoidable travel through public spaces," it had read.
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