Amid the deadly novel coronavirus outbreak, the Supreme Court will soon introduce court proceedings via video conferencing to avoid the 'people to people' contact. Chief Justice of India S A Bobde on Sunday said that there cannot be a "complete shutdown" of courts due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The CJI held a meeting with four apex court judges, bar leaders of the Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association and eminent doctors, including Randeep Guleria from the AIIMS, New Delhi, to discuss the situation and the steps that can be taken to prevent the spread of the deadly disease. Justice Arun Mishra, Justice U.U. Lalit, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice L. Nageswara Rao also attend the meeting.
The SC also assured that separate rooms will be allocated to counsels of each party inside the SC premises. Any lawyer has to only download a simple application and activate court proceedings vide video conference, that can be conducted from his office. There would also be a smart televisions in both the press lounge for the convenience of the journalists. That e-filings can be made any time of the day i.e., 24/7. The court proceedings and filing procedures will soon go digital and paperless, the Court said.
Justice Bobde ruled out the possibility of a shutdown of the top court and said as virtual courts were on the verge of commencement, there could only be a possibility of a limited shutdown at the present instance, SCAORA said in its release. Justice Bobde had further clarified that any demand of the bar and the bench would be subordinated to the medical advice drawn in the meeting, it said. The bar said that common medical advice was issued by medical experts after the meeting.
Earlier on March 13, Delhi High Court Chief Justice and other judges held an urgent meeting and issued an advisory to all district courts in the national capital. The Delhi High Court has asked District Courts to make optimum use of video conferencing, and the accused can be produced through video conferencing instead of their physical appearance. The court has also asked the subordinate courts to prefer written submissions over oral arguments, the advisory states.
It further said that in criminal matters, the request for exemption from the personal appearance of the accused be considered favourably and in civil matters wherever possible, service of Local Commissioner be availed of for the purpose of the recording of evidence, after obtaining the consent of both the parties.
"The facility of video conferencing be put to optimum use for the purposes of the recording of evidence, Instead of the physical production of under-trial prisoners (UTPs) from jails, the facility of video conferencing be availed of. Unnecessary crowding in the lock-up be curtailed and appropriate steps in this regard are taken all the District and Sessions Judges in consultation with the prison authorities," the advisory adds.
The Delhi HC advisory also stated that the District and Sessions Judge in charge of the court complex shall ensure that medical dispensaries in the court complex are well equipped to tackle the present emergent situation. While issuing the advisory to all district courts, the Delhi High Court has also decided to restrict its functioning to urgent matters from March 16 to prevent and control the outbreak of novel coronavirus.
(with agencies input)