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Whether it has been speaking out against the misuse of sedition law or highlighting problems in the judiciary while still holding office, Justice Deepak Gupta has never been one to shy away from making bold statements.
Justice Gupta, who retired from the Supreme Court yesterday, spoke to Bar & Bench in a freewheeling telephonic interview, hours after his virtual farewell.
Over the course of the interview, he touches upon the courts' move to hearing cases by video-conferencing during the COVID-19 lockdown, transparency in judicial appointments, and more.
Debayan Roy: You are retiring from the Supreme Court at a time when it is going through a new phase of hearings via video conferencing. How do you see the Court adapting to this? Is there any room for improvement in the procedure surrounding these virtual hearings?
Justice Deepak Gupta: See, this is not only with COVID-19. I have been involved with Justice Madan B Lokur in the e-Courts project. As Chief Justice of various high courts, I have always felt that we must take advantage of the tremendous scope to make justice cheaper and to make it more accessible to the people of the country.
But we have to decide where we can do it. It cannot be done in every case. You cannot decide constitutional matters on video-conferencing. You cannot have a trial by video-conferencing, but remand cases can be heard via video conferencing.
In trial courts, there are so many witnesses who are formal witnesses. The parties can agree that they can be examined by video conference or on affidavit. So many times, doctors are called to give evidence in medical cases and they are required more in hospitals than in courts. So for them, it can be done.