Supreme Court issues standard operating procedure for mentioning, e-filing, and hearings through video conferencing
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Supreme Court issues standard operating procedure for mentioning, e-filing, and hearings through video conferencing

The video conferencing hearings will be conducted on the VIDYO platform hosted on the servers of National Data Centre of National Informatics Centre, Government of India.

Bar & Bench

The Supreme Court has issued a circular detailing the standard operating procedure to ease the process of mentioning, e-filing, and video conferencing of hearings amid the lockdown due to COVID-19.

Taking into account the recommendations made by the various Bar bodies, the Supreme Court has laid down a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the Court procedures during the COVID-19 lockdown. This circular is in supersession of previous circulars issued by the Apex Court in March.

The SOP requires the Advocate on Record (AOR) or the Petitioner in-person to file the petition or application through the e-filing channel provided on the main website of the Supreme Court, in accordance with the procedure prescribed.

Once the filing is complete, the AOR or party-in-person may send a separate mentioning application containing synopsis of the matter to show the extreme urgent nature of the case on the email ID set up for receiving mentioning applications. These one-page long applications are to be sent on email address mention.sc@sci.nic.in two days prior to the sitting of a Bench latest by 5 PM in order to be considered for urgent hearing.

The SOP also details the other parameters required to be duly made in the mentioning application such as request for exemption from filing duly affirmed affidavit, consent for the hearing to be conducted through video conferencing, among others.

Upon approval or denial of the urgent mentioning, the AOR or party-in-person would be intimated. Re-mentioning of the case through phone at the residence of the Judge will not be permitted, the circular specifies. The circular also details the facilities for joining the video conference and for its viewing. It adds,

"It may be noted that a maximum of two appearance-links will be provided per party, together with one viewing-link that may be provided for the litigant separately; hence, it is expected that request(s) of such links, if any, should be clearly made in the mentioning-application to enable the Registry to provide the links in time at each point, at the time of the hearing."

The circular also lays down various directions for joining the video conferencing to be conducted on the VIDYO platform hosted on the servers of National Data Centre of National Informatics Centre, Government of India.

"It may be further noted that smooth functioning of the video-conference is squarely dependent upon and subject to the connectivity [signal-strength/bandwidth] available at the end of the remote user(s), and hence it is expected that any party joining a video-conference hearing shall ensure robust connectivity and bandwidth are available at their end..."
The circular states.

It is advised that remote users ensure that they are connected through a broadband connection with minimum 2 mbps/dedicated 4G data connection. Further, it is added that no other device should be connected on the internet facility for the duration of the hearing to ensure smooth functioning.

A step by step procedure to join the video conferencing and to ensure its smooth functioning is also laid down in the circular.

Read the Circular:

SC circular 15.4.20.pdf
Preview

The circular further adds a note on the need to mainten court decorum during video conference hearings. Participants are expected not to resort to any indecorous conduct or dress or comment. Further, parties are required to ensure that the proceedings are neither recorded/stored nor broadcast, in any manner whatsoever.

Moreover, it is also intimated that after the publication of cause list, a WhatsApp group may be created by the Registry before the hearing of the matters where the participants may raise any query related to video conferencing.

That apart, the parties may contact the Mentioning Helpline Telephone Numbers 011-23381463 and 011-23111428, as per procedure mentioned by the Circular issued on April 7, which is available on the website of the Supreme Court.

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