The Supreme Court in a suo moto matter pertaining to the functioning of courts during the lockdown imposed in the wake of the ongoing pandemic stated that high courts may formulate their own rules in video conferencing. The chief justice of India SA. Bobde and justices DY Chadrachaud and L. Nagashwara Rao noted that the high court rules for virtual hearing would extend to trial as well as appellate proceedings. The bench said, “here has been a change in the situation since April 2020. In many states, the situation has eased and it has been possible to even commence hearings in the congregation. We must say that the system of Video Conferencing has been extremely successful in providing access to justice".
The bench further noted that many high courts have already formulated their rules and those who have not may do so in consideration of the present scenario of the COVID condition in the state. Attorney General KK Venugopal apprised the court and acknowledged the fact that virtual hearing has been extremely instrumental in rendering justice in the system. Justice Chandrachud, who is also the Chairman of the E-Committee, informed the Counsels present that tenders had been issued for the same. A committee of 4 judges was formed in order to formulate such rules and 11 high courts subsequently appointed the model. A discussion also ensued on the usage of fibre optic networks and satellites. The AG said that with the financial help of the centre the courts could benefit in the virtual hearing system. Further, he said that smartphones would be needed in rural areas to simplify the procedure and thus live hearings could be witnessed all around the country.
Senior advocate appearing on behalf of Reliance Jio contended that they have the best optical fibre network. Senior Advocate Vias Singh made submissions regarding the infrastructural changes to the supreme court. In such unprecedented times, the need of the hour is to establish a network or system by which the system of rendering justice could be simplified in the wake of the ongoing pandemic. Suggestions for having a separate cubicle where court hearings could be taken and categorization of cases such as transfer and bail pleas can be heard only through the virtual platform. The decision regarding the same would be taken post-Diwali holidays.