The Supreme Court on Monday gave legal sanctity to the “temporary measures” adopted by it and other courts to reduce the need for physical presence in their premises to effectively bring into effect social distancing norms.
A bench of Chief Justice of India S A Bobde and Justices D Y Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao said that all measures taken “to secure the functioning of courts in consonance with social distancing guidelines and best public health practices shall be deemed to be lawful”.
The interim directions will hold till the court lays down detailed guidelines after the lockdown is lifted.
Following the countrywide lockdown, the Supreme Court and some High Courts have introduced video-conferencing to hear urgent matters. On Monday, the court took suo motu cognizance of the situation in courts in the wake of the lockdown and “authorised” the Supreme Court and High Courts “to adopt measures required to ensure the robust functioning of the judicial system through the use of video conferencing technologies”.
The order left it to the High Courts to determine the suitable modalities depending on the peculiarities of the judicial system in every state and the public health situation.
It said, “The concerned courts shall maintain a helpline to ensure that any complaint in regard to the quality or audibility of feed shall be communicated during the proceeding or immediately after its conclusion failing which no grievance in regard to it shall be entertained thereafter”.
The SC also asked district courts to adopt the mode of video-conferencing prescribed by the respective High Court and directed them to duly notify and make available the facilities for video conferencing for litigants who do not have the means or access to it.
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