Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh High Court, Jitendra Kumar Maheswari (L) during a video conference hearing
Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh High Court, Jitendra Kumar Maheswari (L) during a video conference hearing
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How the Andhra Pradesh High Court has been hearing urgent matters during the COVID-19 Lockdown

Bar & Bench

The High Court of Andhra Pradesh at Amravati is among the High Courts that have been conducting Zoom meetings to hear urgent cases during the lockdown in place to curb the spread of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

As with other courts in the country, the Andhra Pradesh High Court also went into partial lockdown amid the health crisis.

The High Court then took a call to dispose of extremely urgent cases only through Web-hearing / Video-Conferencing. To this end, the Court registry has opted to use the Zoom meeting application, which is an open sourced software.

A screen grab of a Zoom Meeting conducted for an urgent hearing before the Andhra Pradesh High Court
A screen grab of a Zoom Meeting conducted for an urgent hearing before the Andhra Pradesh High Court

Litigants and counsel were directed to submit court filings in soft copy to the Registrar's official e-mail. After receiving requests from Advocates and parties-in-person, the Registrar (Judicial) would place them before the Chief Justice.

The matter would be taken up, only if the Chief Justice finds imminent urgency involved, through Video- Conferencing.

Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh High Court, Justice JK Maheswari
Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh High Court, Justice JK Maheswari

After scrutiny and registration of the cases by the Registry, the cases are placed before the the Chief Justice, who would then fix a date and time for the web-hearing conducted by a Bench designated by the Chief Justice. All participants to the hearing, including the Bench, would then attend the hearing from their respective residences by using the Zoom application.

By adopting this procedure, hearings have been held so far on three days i.e. March 31, April 1 and April 2, 2020. The orders passed are also uploaded on the High Court's website on the same day.

On a related note, the same Zoom software is being used by the Kerala High Court and the Madras High Court for hearings during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Recently, the Supreme Court also opined that for the time being, High Courts are free to determine what technology works best for the respective courts in transitioning to video conference hearings during the lockdown.

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