SC Shuts Down Premises, to Hear Cases Through Video-Conferencing

Earlier in the day, an SC bench heard three matters through video-conferencing.

Published23 Mar 2020, 03:16 PM IST
2 min read

A decision was taken on Monday to "shut down" the Supreme Court premises with immediate effect and hearing in urgent matters would take place only through video-conferencing and Skype, the lawyers' bodies of the apex court said on Monday, 23 March.

The decision was taken at a meeting of Justices L Nageswara Rao, Surya Kant and Aniruddha Bose with office bearers of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) and Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association (SCAORA), hours after the hearing on the issue earlier in the day.

Earlier in the day, an SC bench heard three matters through video-conferencing, sticking to the social distancing protocol aimed at curbing the coronavirus pandemic.

"The Supreme Court premises including the chamber blocks will be fully shut down with immediate effect. Hearings will take place without personal presence and only through video-conferencing, Skype or similar other means," said the lawyer bodies.

They also said that all proximity cards would be cancelled with immediate effect for the time being and chamber blocks would be closed at 5 pm on Tuesday to enable the members to take out their files and papers.

It has been decided in the meeting that for any emergency need, the SCBA would certify the member for entering the court premises, they added.

“However the filing counter will be open and can be accessed by members,” the associations said, adding that “e-filings should begin shortly”.

"During the present crisis, single judge will hear and decide bail applications, pending and future, as a temporary measure," they said, adding, "Any urgent matter where interim orders are expiring or cost orders are time bound, can be brought to the notice of registry for urgent listing or extension by the judges".

They said urgent filing of matters should be accompanied with one page justification showing urgency and the judge “will decide the urgency and if declines, will hear the concerned lawyer on phone during specified times only”.

"During the meeting, we could gather that the judges are willing to address all issues being faced by the Bar relating to urgent matters," said SCBA and SCAORA.

SCAORA, which also issued a separate resolution to its members, said the meeting was attended by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, SCBA president and senior advocate Dushyant Dave, SCBA's secretary Ashok Arora and SCAORA's secretary Joseph Aristotle.

“An app called 'Vidyo' will be available for download by today evening and the same is downloadable for all Android and Apple-based smartphones. The said app will function in all smartphones, desktops, mobiles, laptops, netbooks, iPads etc that have cameras,” the SCAORA said.

Earlier, during the hearing on Monday, a bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde said that the apex court has decided to seal lawyers chambers in and around its premises and only one court would hear "extremely urgent matters" through virtual means.

The bench said it was mulling over shutting down its functioning and considering to hear urgent matters through virtual means.

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