COVID-19: SC to hear urgent matter via video conference

Supreme Court to hear urgent matter via video conference amid COVID-19 lockdown

Supreme Court of India. (Credit: PTI Photo)

The Supreme Court on Monday decided to conduct hearing through video conferencing in extremely urgent matters. The top court also decided to cancel the 'proximity' cards (for entry) issued to lawyers for their entry into its premises in view of the situation arising out of COVID-19 pandemic.

A bench presided over by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde asked Supreme Court Bar Association President Dushyant Dave to ensure lawyers vacated their chambers by 5 pm on Tuesday for cleaning and fumigation purposes.

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Dave contended the clients are pressurising advocates for hearing. "People are extremely frustrated today. If the court can close for four weeks we can work during the regular June vacations," he said.

To this, the CJI said, "It is only a matter of nomenclature. Whether we call it a vacation or shutdown."

"We are considering several things. We want a list of statues in which appeals only come to SC. We will decide on whether to declare vacation because it will have an effect on the filing of cases which are time-barred," the bench said.

Also Read: Coronavirus India update: State-wise total number of confirmed cases

"We are working out a system where lawyers will be allowed to address us from their homes. We shall soon let you know. We will give you a link. You sit wherever, you want and talk to us," CJI Bobde told lawyers.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta asked the court to consider passing orders for deemed extension of limitation.

On this, the bench said nobody was going out of station and nobody was expected to go out of the station. "Maybe filing can be done even though the court is closed," it said.

Dave said everyone was scared of coming to court even for filing of cases purpose.

The CJI said we will review the situation every weekend. The court, however, decided to hold a hearing in urgent matters via video conference.

"Video conferencing can be done by lawyers sitting in their own offices," the court said.

The CJI suggested to hold sitting once a week on matters of extreme urgency, then the courts can go on vacation in usual time.

Dave said we don't need to come to the court. "We can use Skype, video call," he said. 

Senior advocate AM Singhvi said even videoconferencing required lawyers to come here and congregate. We can allow videoconferencing or audio conference from our offices, he said.

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