Teething troubles notwithstanding, the Supreme Court heard 390 main matters via video conferencing since March 23 when it started the process, official sources said Saturday. As per SC data, the court also pronounced judgments in 41 main matters, which also disposed of 174 connected petitions.
A total of 87 benches sat during the 17 days on which the court heard cases since March 23. This includes 34 benches which heard main matters and 53 benches which took up review petitions.
Last month, the apex court, in view of the nationwide lockdown announced by the government to combat the COVID-19 situation, had restricted its work and decided to take up only urgent matters via video conferencing.
The attempt was to avoid crowding in courts and ensure social distancing.
Initially, the video conferencing witnessed hiccups mostly due to technical snags. Sometimes the judges even had to telephonically interact with the counsel as the connection failed. SC sources said the tech problems at the end of the official agencies had been addressed but added that such problems could happen also if the lawyers addressing the court do not have proper connectivity at their end when they join the hearing through mobile phones.
The court is using the VIDYO platform hosted on the servers of National Data Centre of National Informatics Centre for the video conferencing.
The SC also stepped up efforts to encourage e-filing of cases during this period.
On the progress of the new mode of hearing, SC sources said “this is a movement which has gained traction in most High Courts. It enables even fraught cases to be conducted with dignity and in a calm environment. Lawyers have been cooperative. Technology has become a matter of central focus for the judiciary. Video conferencing is just the beginning of a robust new age infrastructure for the Indian judiciary”.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court Bar Association in a resolution said that video conferencing should be limited to the period of the lock down and open court hearing should resume once the health situation permits.
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