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COVID19: SC Passes Guidelines On Modalities Surrounding Videcon Hearings During Lockdown, Says "Technology Is Here To Stay"

Sanya Talwar
6 April 2020 8:04 AM GMT
COVID19: SC Passes Guidelines On Modalities Surrounding Videcon Hearings During Lockdown, Says Technology Is Here To Stay
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The Supreme Court on Monday passed various directions in a suo moto case pertaining to guidelines for the functioning of courts via video conferencing during the COVID-19 lockdown. A bench comprising Chief Justice S A Bobde, Justices D Y Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao directed that NIC state officials be appointed to liaise with and support state High courts in order to set up...

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The Supreme Court on Monday passed various directions in a suo moto case pertaining to guidelines for the functioning of courts via video conferencing during the COVID-19 lockdown.

A bench comprising Chief Justice S A Bobde, Justices D Y Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao directed that NIC state officials be appointed to liaise with and support state High courts in order to set up modalities surrounding hearings via videoconferencing.

The bench also pointed out the need for applying tech-friendly and viable options, that last not only during the lockdown but also afterwards.



While stating that Video Conferencing and its modalities are an important step to ensure Rule of Law and preserve the Constitution, the Supreme Court directed that, it is important to perpetuate social distancing in light of the COVID19 Pandemic.

"All measures that shall be taken by Supreme court and High courts for social distancing guidelines and best public Health guidelines. High Courts are authorised to employ measures for social distancing through use of technology" stated Chief Justice SA Bobde


The CJI bench, inter alia, further directed the following:-

  • The court will have the power to restrict entry into courtroom to maintain distancing. No presiding officer will restrict entry of the parties to the case unless the parties are suffering any health problems;

  • Any complaint on videoconferencing quality to be made during, or immediately after hearing. No grievance can be raised afterwards;

  • District courts to adopt videoconferencing in accordance with respective HC rules, until HCs frame rules, no evidence can be recorded unless agreed to by both parties;

  • Presiding officer can prohibit entry into courtroom, power to restrict gathering:

  • Courts to make appropriate arrangements for litigants who cannnot access videoconferencing facilities, until appropriate rules are framed by the HCs videoconferencing will be used;

  • All courts to maintain helpline for grievances regarding video feed and line during and immediately after the hearing"

Attorney General KK Venugopal highlighted the need to have an efficient system in place which may be accessed by lawyers across the country.

"We should not stop merely as long as COVID is there. Need to continue video conferencing even after lockdown"the AG added.

On Friday, Justice DY Chandrachud, who heads the E-Committee of the SC, had held a meeting the judges representing all High Courts on court hearing via video conferencing.

Justice DY Chandrachud had reviewed measures which have been initiated by the High Courts in their respective jurisdiction.

Following the declaration of 21-day lockdown on March 24, the Supreme Court had been hearing urgent matters through video conferencing.

Former Supreme Court Bar Association President, Senior Advocate Vikas Singh, had written to the CJI seeking amendment to SC Rules to provide video conferencing facility even after lockdown.

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