2 Feb 2023 5:29 AM GMT
The Supreme Court on Wednesday verbally expressed that all courts in the country need to have in place, a hybrid system for hearing cases. Before a bench of Justices SK Kaul and Abhay Shreeniwas Oka, Senior Advocate P Wilson said that regional benches of the Supreme Court are necessary for the benefit of litigants. “With the technology that has developed now, this has...
The Supreme Court on Wednesday verbally expressed that all courts in the country need to have in place, a hybrid system for hearing cases.
Before a bench of Justices SK Kaul and Abhay Shreeniwas Oka, Senior Advocate P Wilson said that regional benches of the Supreme Court are necessary for the benefit of litigants.
“With the technology that has developed now, this has lost significance. People regularly, are appearing before us, virtually from all over the country. The only thing which is important is every court must be mandated to work with a hybrid system. Whoever wants to appear can do so”, the Bench replied.
Currently, the Supreme Court as well as certain High Courts in the country function in a hybrid mode-where advocates and litigants have the option to either be physically present before the court or appear virtually.
Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi informed that Bombay and Gujarat High Courts don’t have this facility anymore.
“In fact, I requested the Chief Justice (in Gujarat) and he said - we don't have the screens anymore”, the senior counsel said.
“Some matter has to come to us for us to say something”, the Bench observed.
“We will bring some matter”, Rohatgi assured.
The bench was considering an election petition on the recounting of votes in a 2016 election to the Radhapuram Assembly Constituency. The plea was moved by an ex-MLA Inbadurai. The Court kept the matter pending and adjourned it while observing, “we have better matters to hear now”.
Highlighting the importance of a hybrid system, Justice Kaul said that it is a “great facility”.
“The hybrid system (of hearing) is a great facility. Matters from all over the country come here. It is an expensive affair for someone coming from the east or south. That is why they said regional benches (of the Supreme Court to be established). Next result is that, notices are issued in 20-25% of the cases. The first chance you can at least take (virtually). If something happens, they can come here. This virtual system...all forums must strengthen the system. It should not be that somebody likes it. Somebody doesn't like it”
In fact, NCLT, NCLATs are actually working this way, the advocates pointed out.
"We were all sceptical in the beginning about lawyers sitting and arguing cases from their offices. But now we have learnt", the Bench observed.
Another senior advocate lauded the Kerala High Court for having a very public-friendly hybrid system in place.
“The Kerala High Court is amazing. You can find the link of the VC hearing online (in the website). Anyone can get the link”
The Court informed that requests were being made in transfer cases to allow them to appear virtually, unless their presence was absolutely necessary.
“In this technological age today, how can we expect people to wait for 15-20 years? Something has to be done to solve it”, remarked the Bench.
“With so much technology, if we cannot speed up, then we are not using it to the fullest”, the senior advocate added.
The Bench took liberty to add that in most countries, people go by the set time frame.
In International arbitration tribunals, people abide by the time limit. It's just a matter of habit here, the senior advocate said.
“Anyway, you (advocates) have to argue less, we (judges) have to write shorter, the Bench said while parting with the matter.
During the discussion, the Bench also observed that the Tribunals in the country should have experts in the respective fields as members.
Case Title: I.S. Inbadurai vs Appavu | CA No. 1055/2022