Hybrid SC hearings likely from Sept
Part of: Prelims and GS – II – Judiciary
In news The Supreme Court may try a mixed mode of physical and virtual court hearings from the first week of September 2021.
- However, no final decision has yet been taken. The court is keeping in mind reports about the third wave of the pandemic. It does not want to launch the “mixed mode” and then abort it midway in case of a prospective rise in COVID-19 cases.
- The Supreme Court had passed directions for all courts across the country to extensively use video-conferencing for judicial proceedings saying congregations of lawyers and litigants must be suspended to maintain social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic.
- SC restricted its functioning and has been conducting hearings through video conferencing since March 25, 2020.
- It also exercised its plenary power to direct all high courts to frame a mechanism for use of technology during the pandemic.
The Pros of virtual hearings
- Saves significant court costs in terms of building, staff, infrastructure, security, transportation costs for all parties to the court proceedings, especially transfer of prisoners from jails.
What are the Challenges of virtual hearings?
- The use of video and audio enabled hearings have also faced significant legal and practical problems including admissibility and authenticity of the evidence received through the video and/or audio transmissions, the identity of the witness and/or individuals subject of the hearings, the confidentiality of the hearings.
- Poor quality of internet connection or inability to establish connection at the agreed time,
- Poor and outdated the audio and video equipment
- Power cuts
- Face-to-face contact is essential to build trust and develop relationships.
- Defences such as duress or reasonable excuse may require the defendant to reveal delicate or personal information – they may not feel comfortable doing so to a stranger over a video link, while sitting in a cramped room in a police station.
News source: TH