New Delhi, May 11: For the first time since its inception, the Supreme Court will have a single-judge bench hearing certain kinds of petitions from Wednesday. The new system is being introduced to dispose of piled up pending cases.

A Supreme Court bench typically has at least two judges.

The single-judge bench will hear appeals of bail and anticipatory bail petitions in cases that involve offences liable for punishment of not more than seven-year jail term, NDTV reported. Earlier, such cases were heard by two-judge benches.

In September last year, the Supreme Court amended its rules to allow a single judge hear bail, anticipatory bail and transfer petitions.

According to the law ministry, till July last year, the court had more than 11.5 lakh pending cases. Amid the coronavirus lockdown, the Supreme Court is hearing matters of extreme urgency through video conferencing on Skype, Facetime and WhatsApp applications.

A circular in March, issued by the top court’s secretary general, had said that for all matters involving extreme urgency the Advocate on Record (AOR) or party-in-person was required to first file the petition or an application, preferably through the e-filing mode. Then, he had to file another application containing a synopsis of extreme urgency.

“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,” it had read.

Chief Justice Of India SA Bobde had told NDTV that the court was doing whatever it can during the crisis. “We are not taking rest and we are working and disposing of the cases. We work 210 days in a year as per our calendar,” he said.

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