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Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Virtual court: SC bench upset with glitches

The bench of Justices S K Kaul, Dinesh Maheshwari and Hrishikesh Roy went on to record its disappointment in its order and asked the Secretary General to look into the issue.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Updated: January 6, 2021 6:17:28 am
Ever since the Covid-19 induced lockdown in March 2020, the Supreme Court has moved to virtual hearings and uses VIDYO platform hosted on the servers of National Data Centre of National Informatics Centre for video conferencing.

TECHNICAL PROBLEMS in the course of virtual hearing hit a raw nerve in the Supreme Court on Tuesday with a three-judge bench expressing its “exasperation at the inability of the virtual court system to work satisfactorily”.

The bench of Justices S K Kaul, Dinesh Maheshwari and Hrishikesh Roy went on to record its disappointment in its order and asked the Secretary General to look into the issue.

“We at the inception must note our exasperation at the inability of the virtual court system to work satisfactorily in the Supreme Court while there is no such problems in the Delhi High Court next door! We have been since yesterday trying to cope with the problem of disconnections, resonance of voices, even when there is single person arguing. It is difficult to understand this despite more licences stated to have been taken. The only voice we hear is the resonance of our own voices! We thus direct the Secretary General to look into this issue as it is becoming very difficult to continue with proceedings in the virtual courts in an appropriate manner,” the court said in the order.

Ever since the Covid-19 induced lockdown in March 2020, the Supreme Court has moved to virtual hearings and uses VIDYO platform hosted on the servers of National Data Centre of National Informatics Centre for video conferencing.

With some lawyers complaining of teething problems, the Supreme Court Bar Association had in April 2020 resolved to request that until normal working of open courts resumes, the temporary video-conferencing facilities be immediately improved by adoption of live-streaming of court proceedings and by replacement of the existing platform with an efficient multi-user platform.

The Delhi High Court uses the Cisco WebEx for virtual hearings.

Tuesday’s developments came while the court was hearing a bail plea filed by a Raipur-based businessman who was arrested on GST violation charges. Mithilesh Tiwari in his plea filed through Advocate Megha Karnwal has challenged the Madhya Pradesh High Court order rejecting his bail application.

Karnwal said Tiwari, who is a kidney patient undergoing dialysis, has sought permission to be shifted to a private hospital. He was earlier admitted to a government hospital but was later discharged and taken back to jail.

The apex court noted that despite its December 18 order, the government had not placed before it verification of the petitioner’s medical condition. The court gave the government two days time to place before it details that the court had asked for. It will hear the matter next on January 8.

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