In view of the Supreme Court’s order passed regarding video conferencing in district courts, on 06.04.2020 in a Suo Moto Writ Petition bearing No. 5 of 2020, the Patiala House Court decided to conduct hearings via video conferencing.
Taking into consideration the national lockdown owing to the widespread outbreak of Covid-19, the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi has furthermore stated that the district courts may use the platform of CISCO WEBEX for video conferencing. CISCO is a cloud based collaboration suite comprised of WEBEX meetings, WEBEX Teams and WEBEX Devices providing core collaboration capabilities, including video meetings, team messaging and file sharing.
The Patiala House Court directed its Computer Branch to provide adequate assistance to lawyers who agree to avail the facility of video conferencing.
Protocols to be followed while conducting court hearings via video conferencing were also provided in the said order.
As per the directions, the litigants may file the application vide email at firstname.lastname@example.org and send their petitions/applications/suit on the same address, which shall be downloaded by the In charge-Filing Counter for the purpose of registration.
In case a lawyer desires to conduct the hearing via CISCO WEBEX, his application shall be forwarded by the Incharge-Filing Counter to the learned judge via Whatsapp or email. The filing counter will seek report from the concerned investigating officer in case of urgent matters alongside sending the said application to the Chief Public Prosecutor, New Delhi in case of bail matters, and to the opposite party otherwise.
The reply by the Investigating Officer/ opposite party/ Public Prosecutor shall be given via email at email@example.com.
In situations where the advocate/litigant/ public prosecutor/ police are unable to conduct the hearing from their respective locations, video conferencing facility shall be provided in the conference room of the district or sessions judge while the computer branch would facilitate the process of video conferencing.
The court additionally directed the Additional District Judge/ Additional Sessions Judges to sit in Court No.4, ground floor, main building, Patiala House Court and the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate/ Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate/ Metropolitan Magistrate to sit in Court no. 2, ground floor, main building, Patiala House Court.
In case of any hindrance in the process of video conferencing through CISCO WEBEX, lawyers or any stakeholders may contact the District System Administrator, Mr. Sukhbir Singh. The contact details were also provided for the same in the said order.
“In case the judge decides to grant bail, the bail bond shall be furnished to the Duty MM stationed in the respective jail”, the order stated further.
It’s been more than two weeks since the nationwide lockdown was announced in the country, and the judicial system has left no stones unturned in tackling its work through video-conferencing in a bid to further limit human interface and the spread of Covid-19 in the courts.