New Delhi, Apr 7: The Supreme Court on Monday issued a slew of directions to ensure smooth functioning of courts through videoconferencing amid the nationwide lockdown because of the Covid-19 outbreak.

A three-judge bench of the apex court presided over by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde directed appointing state officials of National Informatics Centre (NIC) to liaison with the respective high courts and formulate a plan for the virtual functioning of the court.

The apex court passed these directions while hearing a suo motu case to frame guidelines for courts for hearings via videoconferencing, the Mint reported.

The bench also comprising Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and L. Nageswara Rao held that a viable and tech-friendly system needs to be set up, that will work even after the nationwide lockdown is lifted.

The presiding officer of the court can restrict entry of persons in the courtroom to uphold social distancing rules, according to the guidelines, which state that the parties to the case will be allowed to enter unless they are suffering from health issues.

The guidelines state that district courts are to follow the videoconferencing rules as formulated by their respective high courts. They state that all courts should maintain helpline services to resolve the grievances of all those appearing through videoconferencing during the hearing or immediately after the hearing.

No evidence shall be allowed through videoconferencing and if necessary, the presiding officer of the court will ensure that social distancing is maintained in the courtroom.

The guidelines would be formulated and sent to the respective courts and lawyers by NIC. The case will be next heard after three weeks. Appropriate steps will be taken if the lockdown is not lifted by the government, the court said.

“This cannot be seen as a temporary issue. Technology is here to stay,” said Chief Justice Bobde.

The top court also said it shall not specify any particular technology application for virtual functioning of the court as the high courts are at liberty to choose the application according to their convenience.

https://www.livemint.com/news/india/covid-19-lockdown-sc-issues-video-conferencing-guidelines-for-courts-11586166492796.html

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