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Regulatory Updates

16-Apr-2020

The past week saw a flurry of activity in connection with the adoption and implementation of the virtual system of functioning by the Indian judicial machinery.

On 6 April 2020, the Supreme Court, of its own motion, passed directions for conduct of court proceedings across the country via video conferencing during the period of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic[1]. Broadly, the apex court directed as under:

a.     All High Courts shall ensure functioning of the judicial system through use of VC technologies and to this end, shall decide the modalities for use of VC technologies after considering relevant factors (such as peculiarities of the judicial system in every state as well as the dynamically developing public health situation);

b.     District Courts in every state shall adopt VC technologies prescribed by the appropriate High Court;

c.     Courts shall make VC facilities available for those litigants who do not have access to these facilities, including by appointment of advocates as “amicus curiae” and making VC facilities available to such advocates (if necessary);

d.     Till such time as the High Courts frame rules in this regard, VC technologies shall primarily be used for hearing arguments, both, at the trial as well as appellate stages. However, evidence shall not be recorded using VC facilities except with the parties’ mutual consent.

e.     The directions shall remain in force till such time as further orders are passed by the Supreme Court. 

On 7 April 2020, the Telangana[2], Patna[3] and Gauhati[4] High Courts passed directions inter alia for conduct of hearings via video-conferencing during the period of COVID-19 lockdown (VC hearings during COVID).

On 8 April 2020, the Bombay High Court issued special directions in connection with live-streaming of matters listed for hearing on 9 April 2020 before His Lordship the Hon’ble Mr Justice G S Patel[5]. Separately, the Andhra Pradesh[6] and Manipur[7] High Courts issued guidelines inter alia regarding VC hearings during COVID. Further, the Orissa High Court notified the Orissa High Court e-Filing and Video Conferencing Scheme, 2020 for e-filing of cases and mentioning of matters for listing and hearing of cases via video-conferencing[8]. The provisions of the Scheme came into effect on 9 April 2020.

On 9 April 2020, the Bombay High Court issued further directions in connection with live-streaming of all matters listed for hearing before His Lordship the Hon’ble Mr Justice G S Patel until 14 April 2020[9].   On the same day, the Calcutta High Court issued directions for district and sub-divisional courts regarding VC hearings during COVID[10].

On 11 April 2020, the Allahabad[11] and Uttarakhand[12] High Courts issued instructions inter alia for conduct of VC hearings during COVID.

As on 11 April 2020, the following software have been and/or will be employed across the country to conduct court proceedings virtually[13]:

COURT

(High Courts and their subordinate courts and tribunals)

VIDYO

ZOOM

MS TEAMS

SKYPE

WHATSAPP

MISCELLANEOUS

(Not specified

OR

VC facilities made available in court premises

OR

other apps)

Allahabad HC

 

 

 

 

 

Ö

(VC facilities made available in court premises as well as ‘Jitsi Meet’)

Andhra Pradesh HC

 

Ö

 

 

 

 

Bombay HC

Ö

Ö

 

 

 

Ö

Calcutta HC

Ö

 

Ö

Ö

Ö

 

Chhattisgarh HC

 

Ö

 

 

 

 

Delhi HC

Ö

 

 

 

Ö

Ö

(VC facilities made available in court premises as well as Cisco Webex)

Gauhati HC

Ö

(for administrative meetings and for communication with police and jail personnel)

Ö

 

Ö

(for judicial work)

Ö

(for communication with police and jail personnel)

Ö
(‘Lifesize’ for administrative meetings)

Gujarat HC

 

Ö

 

 

 

 

Jammu & Kashmir HC

 

 

 

 

Ö

Ö

Jharkhand HC

Ö

Ö

 

Ö

 

Ö

Karnataka HC

 

Ö

 

Ö

 

 

Kerala HC

 

Ö

 

 

Ö

Ö

(Google Duo)

Madhya Pradesh HC

 

 

 

 

 

Ö

Madras HC

 

Ö

 

 

Ö

 

Manipur HC

Ö

 

 

 

 

 

Meghalaya HC

 

 

 

Ö

Ö

 

Odisha HC

Ö

Ö

 

 

Ö

Ö

Patna HC

Ö

Ö

 

Ö

 

Ö

Punjab & Haryana HC

 

 

 

 

 

Ö

Rajasthan HC

Ö

 

 

Ö

Ö

 

Sikkim HC

Ö

 

 

 

 

 

Telangana HC

 

Ö

 

Ö

 

Ö

Tripura HC

 

 

 

 

 

Ö

Uttarakhand HC

Ö

(If hearing cannot be held via Zoom)

Ö

(If hearing cannot be held via Jitsi Meet)

 

 

 

Ö

(VC facilities made available in court as well as ‘Jitsi Meet’)

 

It is expected that other High Courts will issue similar directions/guidelines regarding conduct of proceedings virtually in the coming days. We will update this section as and when fresh instructions are issued.

-       Kingshuk Banerjee (Partner) and Ms Preeti Sahai (Associate)

For any queries please contact: editors@khaitanco.com


[1] See: Decision passed on 6 April 2020 in Suo Motu Writ (Civil) No 5 of 2020 available at

https://main.sci.gov.in/supremecourt/2020/10853/10853_2020_0_1_21588_Judgement_06-Apr-2020.pdf

 

[3] See: Letter dated 7 April 2020 addressed by Registrar General of the Patna High Court to all district and sessions judges of the state available at http://patnahighcourt.gov.in/pdf/UPLOADED/3562.PDF

 

[6] See: Notification dated 8 April 2020 available at http://hc.ap.nic.in/docs/guidl.pdf

 

[10] See: Notification dated 9 April 2020 available at https://www.calcuttahighcourt.gov.in/Notice-Files/ECOURT/2705

 

[11] See: Notification dated 11 April 2020 available at http://allahabadhighcourt.in/event/event_7403_11-04-2020.pdf

 

[12] See: Notification dated 11 April 2020 available at https://highcourtofuttarakhand.gov.in/upload/contents/File-681.pdf

 

[13] The list has been prepared on the basis of information available on respective high courts’ websites and through news reports and is subject to modification.

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