With a whole lot of activities going online in the duration of the coronavirus or Covid-19 outbreak, why not the Indian Judiciary? The Supreme Court of India introduced a series of latest actions as a result of social distancing measures due to Coronavirus Pandemic.
Many countries like China, US, UK and many courts across the world have been forced to close or to formulate or frame alternative ways to work as emergency measure or response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Technology offers to be more actively involved in work even in this dreadful period. The Apex Court of India concluded that :
- Lawyers will be allowed to argue their cases through video conferences, file cases online 24×7 and also watch proceedings on smart TVs in the press rooms of the court complex.
- The Supreme court has discouraged all non-essential travel to the premise due to the coronavirus pandemic hitting hard in India.
- Casual visitors will not be allowed to enter the apex court premise for tours or to visit the museum.
As a result, the Supreme Court heard 593 matters via video-conferencing and delivered judgement in 215 of them in a month during the Nationwide lockdown.
As Covid-19 infections spread in the country the Supreme Court shut its doors to the litigants and lawyers on March 23, two days before the lockdown came into force but opened up to a virtual way of functioning as The Supreme Court of India is the highest judicial court under the Constitution of India and it was nearly impossible to terminate the hearings of the occurring cases or matters or even new cases.
In normal times, the apex court disposes of nearly 3,500 cases on an average a month. Two-three benches have been taking up “urgent” matters in virtual courtrooms daily during the lockdown period. A total of 87 benches heard 593 cases on 17 working days between Match 23 and April 24, according to data provided by the court.
During the first phase of nationwide lockdown for containing the spread of coronavirus started on 25th March, the Supreme Court had issued a circular on 23rd March restricting entry of advocates and litigants. The circular further said that only matters involving extreme urgency would be heard by the top court via video conferencing.
- 84 review petitions have been disposed by the apex court on April 24.
- Out of 87 benches, 34 benches heard main matters and 53 benches focused on review petitions for adjudication.
- 390 main matters and 203 connected cases, were heard during this period.
- Verdicts were delivered in 215 cases out of which 174 were connected matters.
Hence, with technology comes complications as technical glitches were faced by the lawyers during video-conferencing due to internet connectivity issues at residence or offices of advocates.
The Supreme Court judges who are hearing matter through video-conferencing from their residences have been provided with internet connectivity with the speed of up to 100mbps at their residences so they face no difficulties.
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