The Supreme Court has on Monday, decided to put a complete bar on physical entry into the premises, and has further listed the matters of urgent hearings only via video conferencing.
The bench comprising of Chief Justice of India SA Bobde, Justices L N Rao and Surya Kant had declared that the lawyers’ chambers inside the Court premises will be closed from 5 PM on 24 March, in light of the COVID-19. The bench has further directed the apex court administration to temporarily cancel all proximity cards issued for entry into the Court, to dissuade lawyers from coming to the court, for the time being.
“Entry into the Supreme Court premises is being banned for all except essential staff and security personnel” asserted the bench.
Citing to the viable technologies available to conduct proceedings, the Chief Justice of India, SA Bobde stated that all urgent hearings will be done through video conferencing and all the other hearing will be postponed till the threat of COVID-19 dies down. He stated that all judges will function from their residences and lawyers will be given access to join the hearings through a video-conferencing application.
“We have 6000 licenses for Video applications. Will give the lawyers, the particular link and they can address us from their home,” stated CJI.
The top court has further noted that the limitation period for filing appeals against the orders of High Court or Tribunals will stand extended, indefinitely.
Members of the Bar, office staff and the Supreme Court registry staff would also be exempted from work, till April 4, given the threat of coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed 7 lives across the country and infected more than 400 people, so far.
Although the Supreme Court has been taking steps to control the visitors, it has not been adequate on account of the increasing workload. Meanwhile, lawyers have been demanding live telecasts of court proceedings to avoid overcrowding inside the courtrooms. With the COVID-19 crisis urging stringent action, the Chief Justice who is also the administrative head of the court has imposed a complete clampdown for the time being, by using videoconference for urgent hearings.