New Delhi: Despite the nationwide lockdown due to COVID-19 outbreak, the Supreme Court has confirmed to hear urgent matters through video conferencing on Skype, WhatsApp, and Facetime applications.
Three benches of apex court comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and Surya Kant, Justices L Nageswara Rao and Aniruddha Bose and Justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta will take up matters for hearing on Friday through virtual means.
A bench headed by Justice Chandrachud will take up matters at 11 am, while Justice Rao headed bench will take up matters at 1 pm and Justice Mishra led bench will take up matters for hearing at 3 pm.
A fresh circular, issued by apex court's secretary general, said that for all matters involving extreme urgency the Advocate on Record (AOR) or Party-in-person is required to first file the petition or an application, preferably through the e-filing mode. Then, he has to file another application containing a synopsis of extreme urgency.
It said that to obviate the inconvenience that may be faced due to unforeseen linkage issue of the Vidyo' video-conferencing app, as was stated in earlier circular, now the AORs or Parties-in-person are requested to mention their alternative Skype, Facetime or WhatsApp contact details, if any, along with other details in their mentioning application.
The circular further said: Since the prevailing situation demands that persons be discouraged from undertaking any kind of journey/travel, the apex court registry is taking all steps necessary to conduct the hearings through remote video conferencing links, and hence AORs/Parties-in-persons are advised to refrain from exercising the option of participating in the hearing through video conferencing link facility available at the SC premises for the present, as that would entail unnecessary and avoidable travel through public spaces .
On March 24, the top court had adjourned the hearing on matters listed for March 25 in the wake of a 21-day nationwide lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In a circular issued late Tuesday evening after Prime Minister Modi in his address to the nation announced a complete lockdown of the country to prevent the spread of coronavirus, the apex court said these 15 matters will not be taken up and the hearing stands adjourned.
The cause list had also warned the advocates-on-record not to share video conferencing link with others as it will deactivate the original link shared with the advocate on his e-mail.
The top court on March 23 had held successful trial of its functioning through video conferencing and three matters were heard virtually in which judges sat in the courtroom while advocates argued from a different spot in the apex court.
In a circular issued the same day, the apex court resorted to almost a lockdown- like situation to contain the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) and suspended the entry of advocates and other staff into the high security zone on the basis of their proximity cards till further orders.
The top court had earlier without specifying any date said that only one or two courts will sit to take up extremely urgent matters through video conferencing by an app, which will be installed in desktop, laptop or mobile phones.
The top court had also directed that the lawyers' chamber and offices will be closed, and advised that advocates should not attend office as no sanitation staffs will be allowed inside.
(With Agency Inputs)