Video conferencing, Supreme Court
Video conferencing, Supreme Court
Litigation News

Over 15,000 matters heard, 4,300 matters disposed of: How has the SC fared after over 100 days of virtual functioning amid COVID-19

It is stated, that between March 23 and August 20, 15,596 matters were taken on Board of which 10,754 were main matters, 3,419 were connected matters and 1,423 were matters before the Registrar Court.

Bar & Bench

The Supreme Court of India recently disclosed pertinent information regarding how far it has been able to hear and dispose of cases during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.

With the pandemic disrupting its regular functioning, it was noted that "the Supreme Court of India had to respond with greater speed to keep its functionality unbroken and unaffected."

On the Court's case hearings and disposal rate between March 23 and August 20, the following has been disclosed:

  • Over 15,000 matters were heard. 15,596 matters were taken on Board of which 10,754 were main matters, 3,419 were connected matters and 1,423 were matters before the Registrar Court. Going by the top Court's observations in the Prashant Bhushan contempt case verdict of August 14, 686 writ petitions filed under Article 32 of the Constitution were dealt with by the Court until August 4. The Court had added that until August 4, the Court had heard 12,748 matters.

  • 1,021 Benches constituted (587 for main matters and 434 for Review Petitions). In the abovementioned August 14 verdict, the Court had mentioned that 879 sittings had been held by various Benches between March 23 and August 4.

  • Approximately 4,300 matters were disposed of during this period.

  • About 50,475 advocates have appeared before the court via video conferencing.

  • If the number of advocates, litigants and media persons were taken together, about 65,000 persons have attended the video conference hearings.

  • A total of 6,124 cases were filed, of which 2,930 cases were e-filed and 3,194 cases were physically filed.

  • 8,023 documents were e-filed and 7,801 documents were physically filed (the total documents filed standing at 15,824).

During this period, the Court's Registry initially worked at 30% of its staff strength, which could only be scaled up to 50% during the unlock phase since public transport continued to operate only on a minimal scale.

Further, it is informed that about 125 members of the Registry staff and their immediate family members tested positive for COVID-19. Fortunately, there have been no fatalities involved, the statement intimates. The Registry has not been shut down even for a day between March 16 till date, the Supreme Court disclosed.

During the lockdown period, around 30 media persons have been tracking the proceedings live, as per information made available by the Supreme Court.

Twelve facilitation rooms have been arranged for lawyers and litigants who may face difficulties in joining the video conferencing hearings. Moreover, it is stated that there are seven dedicated helplines to assist advocates and litigants.

By comparison, publicly available case disposal statistics during the pandemic disclose that a total of 18 cases were heard from March 24 to August 17 by the UK Supreme Court, and 29 cases were decided between March 18 and August 17. It is, however, noted that the UK Supreme Court is currently in recess and that court sittings will resume only in October from the 2020-21 legal year.

In the US, it is stated that 74 cases were heard by the Supreme Court between March 30 and August 17, whereas 44 cases were decided in this period.

For the European Union, 57 cases were decided between March 16 and August 17. Oral hearing resumed on May 25, it is noted.

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