[SC after COVID-19 Lockdown] Amend SC rules to allow Video Conference hearings in the future: Senior Advocate Vikas Singh urges CJI Bobde

[SC after COVID-19 Lockdown] Amend SC rules to allow Video Conference hearings in the future: Senior Advocate Vikas Singh urges CJI Bobde

The former SCBA President has also emphasised that such measures would have beneficial impact on the functioning of the Supreme Court in the long run, especially when it comes to tackling the issue of overcrowding.

Bar & Bench

Senior Advocate Vikas Singh has written to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, SA Bobde, proposing a host of measures to decongest the Court, including the amendment of rules to provide for continued video conferencing hearings.

In this regard, Singh has suggested that the Supreme Court Rules should be amended urgently to provide for compulsory Video Conference hearing for certain types of matters and voluntary Video Conference hearing for other matters. The letter dated April 5 further proposes the following:

  • Compulsory Video Conference hearing should be provided for hearing bail matters, transfer petitions, matrimonial matters, service matters involving a single employee, matters of petitioners-in-person (other than PIL) and all other similar matters, as well as Chamber matters and the matters before the Registrars.

  • Voluntary Video Conference hearing should be allowed in all (other) matters.

  • The modalities for the same would be provided in listing a column for the Advocate on Record on whether he would want the matter to be heard through Video Conferencing.

  • The matter may be taken for hearing through Video conferencing mode at the ex parte stage. However, if there is a caveat, such Video Conferencing should only be permitted with the consent of the caveator, in case of the first hearing. Similarly, if it is after notice, Video Conference hearing may be permitted only with the consent of the respondents.

  • This arrangement can be implemented by administrative order until the Supreme Court Rules are amended, it is further suggested.

To carry out these measures, the following measures have also been suggested:

  • Conversion of the round annexe building in front of Court no. 12 into cubicles with Computer Terminals, having LAN connectivity with the chambers of judges who would sit for the video conferencing.

  • This would also allow practicing lawyers of the Supreme Court to use Video conferencing facilities even while attending to other matters listed in other courts which are not being taken up through video conferencing.

  • This will also permit briefing/assisting lawyers and the client to be present during the video conferencing hearing. Persons-to-person contact during such hearing would be minimal.

  • The area remaining vacant in the annexe building should be converted into a library so that lawyers can wait there while their matters are yet to reach in Video conference mode.

It is added that until the infrastructure for these measures is created, the wifi facility in the Supreme Court corridor may be upgraded so that practicing advocates in the Supreme Court can appear for video conference hearings from their layouts while in one of the available libraries/conference rooms or anywhere convenient.

The Courts on a regular basis should also allow the system of the Court rising for at least 15 minutes after finishing half the matters listed on that date on Miscellaneous Days, so that the lawyers appearing in the second half need not crowd the Court till the matters of the first half are being considered, the letter adds.

[Read the Letter]

Letter to CJI - Senior Advocate Vikas Singh.pdf
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