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During the course of the online seminar, the speakers spoke at length on their experience while participating in "Video Conference hearings".
Following the success of its online seminar on the art of cross-examination, Women in Law and Litigation (WILL) on May 2 organized yet another session on the theme 'Understanding Online Court System'.
Delhi High Court Judges Justices Hima Kohli, Rekha Palli and Prathiba M Singh, along with Additional Solicitor General of India, Maninder Acharya were the speakers for the day.
'WILL' is a collective of women lawyers and was envisioned by Justice Hima Kohli (the Founder Patron), Justice Pratibha Singh ( then Secretary General, and now a Patron), Senior Advocate & ASG Maninder Acharya, Senior Advocate Rebecca M John and Advocate Maneesha Dhir, amongst others.
The organisation now also has Justice Rekha Palli as its Patron with Advocates Kaadambari Puri and Tara V Ganju as other prominent constituents of the organisation.
WILL professes to ameliorate disparity and discrimination faced by women lawyers and provide mentorship to young lawyers and facilitating a voice for its women members.
During the course of the online seminar, the speakers spoke at length on their experience while participating in "VC hearings".
Justice Hima Kohli remarked that she had "adapted comfortably" to virtual hearings now. "Not like duck to water but like a valiant warrior..", she said.
Justice Kohli informed that as of May 1, the High Court and its subordinate courts had taken up as many as over 12,000 cases through video conferencing during the lockdown. She assured the audience that no matter how difficult it might seem, one could easily manage a virtual hearing through smart devices, be it phones or laptops.
She also informed that the Rules for conducting of virtual hearings were in place and would be notified soon.
On the point of whether the mode of video conferencing was the way forward, Justice Kohli opined that virtual hearings were not really a substitute but a supplement.
She also expressed her reservations with regards to the adoption of video conferencing for matters other than short matters.
With the help of a PowerPoint presentation, Justice Prathiba M Singh discussed in detail the journey of a matter, right from the moment it is filed till it is taken up by the Court after it is listed.
While discussing the key features that the CISCO WebEx platform offered, Justice Singh stated that the system was very easy to operate, fast and seamless, offered good time-management and even allowed the judges to mute a certain party.
Justice Singh called for live streaming the hearings in future and advocated an amalgamation of virtual and court-room hearings.
She also pointed out that virtual hearings were saving a lot of paper which would otherwise be consumed for the purpose of sharing documents.
While sharing her experience, Justice Rekha Palli said that when she began hearing cases in April first week, the advocates were mostly from big law firms and senior advocates because of the apprehensions in the minds of many.
"Yesterday, I was pleasantly surprised to see lawyers making submissions from their small home-offices.. or even phones. The system has evolved..", Justice Palli said as she shared that her own stenographer was joining the proceedings from Karnal.
Justice Palli also suggested that video-conferencing could be integrated with normal court hearings after the lockdown was lifted.
Senior Advocate and Additional Solicitor General, Maninder Acharya also discussed in detail how she manages through virtual hearings.
In her address, ASG Acharya appreciated the hard work being done by the court staff in arranging and conducting virtual hearings and emphasised upon the eco-friendly nature of virtual hearings.
Given the fact that documents were now being shared between parties as well as with court electronically, ASG Acharya remarked that endless pages were not being photocopied.
ASG Acharya, however, expressed her reservations with respect to using the system for long hearings.
Watch the entire online seminar below: