1. The Supreme Court of India issued guidelines for courts to shift to video conferencing during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
2. The Supreme Court on Monday directed all district courts in the country to switch to video proceedings and authorized presiding officers to adjourn the proceedings if measures to control crowding in courtrooms fail.
3. The top court has taken suo-moto cognizance of a letter written by senior advocate and former Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) president Vikas Singh, who has suggested measures for use of technology for conducting hearings in the courts.
4. A three-judge bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde and Justices DY Chandrachud and L. Nageswara Rao directed that courts shall duly notify and make available the facilities for video-conferencing for such litigants who do not have the means or access to such facilities.
5. Observing that “technology is here to stay”, the top court passed the directions by exercising its plenary power under Article 142 of the Constitution and said that all the measures which shall be taken by the courts to reduce physical presence of stakeholders within its premises “shall be deemed to be lawful”.
6. A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde said, “consistent with the peculiarities of the judicial system in every state and the dynamically developing public health situation”, every high court would be authorized to determine the modalities suitable to the temporary transition to the use of video conferencing technologies.
7. The bench clarified that these directions have been issued to ensure that the judiciary rises to face this unique challenge of COVID-19 pandemic and these directives would remain in place till further orders. It observed that technology had facilitated accessibility and connectivity and Indian courts had been proactive in harnessing technology.