Coronavirus Outbreak: Supreme Court, Delhi Courts To Only Hear Urgent Cases Via Video
Cameras lined up outside the Supreme Court of India. (Source: PTI)

Coronavirus Outbreak: Supreme Court, Delhi Courts To Only Hear Urgent Cases Via Video

The Supreme Court decided to further curtail its functioning by limiting hearing of cases via video-conference as a precautionary measure against the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Lawyers can now address the court for urgent hearings on video-conferencing apps from their homes and offices. The decision came on Monday morning after Chief Justice of India SA Bobde discussed the issue with Dushayant Dave, president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.

The top court has suspended all the proximity cards used by lawyers to enter the Supreme Court premises. The lawyers who have to appear in urgent cases can enter the premises after taking permission from the president of the bar.

The Supreme Court Bar Association had passed a resolution seeking a shutdown for four weeks while the Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association asked for a two-week closure.

The top court also decided to shut down chambers of lawyers, giving them until tomorrow evening to take out their files. For one week, the Supreme Court has restricted its functioning as only a limited number of benches heard urgent cases.

The Delhi High Court, too, suspended its and the subordinate judiciary’s work till April 4. The high court will hear only extremely urgent cases.

Lawyers will have to call the high court registry on a number which shall be released soon and inform the court if there is a case that requires extremely urgent hearing, Nagender Benipal, executive member of the Delhi High Court Bar Association, told BloombergQuint.

After the request is made, the high court will take a call and if the request is allowed then hearing will take place over video conferencing.

The district courts will follow a similar procedure and will hear only cases involving fresh arrests. A judicial officer will be appointed in each district to take take a call on listing of cases depending on the urgency.

Here’s how other courts and tribunals have restricted their functioning:

Karnataka High Court

  • High court closed till April 6.
  • Physical access to court premises will not be accessible to anyone until further orders of the court.
  • District courts across the state will also be shut till April 6. A limited number of courts will open on four dates—March 24, March 27, March 31, and April 2—to hear urgent cases.
  • On all other days during the close-down, cases of remand can be taken up via video-conferencing or by designated magistrates at their residence.
  • The cases listed in regular lists for hearing till April 4 will be given a blanket adjournment and those cases will be listed on a later date through the automated listing software.

National Company Law Appellate Tribunal

  • Withdrew the roster for urgent listing of the cases until April 1 and has gone for a complete lockdown till April 1.
  • Extended the date of limitation for all cases till further orders. The duration of the shutdown will not be counted while determining if any petition is hit by the law of limitation.
  • Any lawyer who wishes to request for urgent hearing of any case has to call the NCLAT registry and inform the need for the urgent listing before April 1.

Punjab & Haryana High Court

  • Has gone under a close-down during the curfew in the state until March 31.
  • Had earlier allowed mentioning request for urgent cases via telephone but has now shifted to email requests for mentioning of urgent cases.
  • The mentioning email for urgent cases must be in one page and only list the dates and sequence of events.
  • The emails will have to be sent from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. every day and the cases which are approved for listing will come up for hearing the next day.
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