Supreme Court Issues SOP For Hearing Cases From May 18 To June 19

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Sunday released a standard operating procedure (SOP) for cases to be heard between May 18 and June 19.

The country’s top court, which has been hearing only urgent cases through video-conferencing during the coronavirus-induced nationwide lockdown, has decided to postpone its summer vacation by five weeks and will remain functional from May 18 to June 19.

For the first time in the Registry of the apex court,  the 1881 helpline number will be functional from 10 am to 5 pm under supervision of senior officers to provide instant solutions to query of advocate and litigants about e-filing and other issues relating to judicial functions.

The SOP also says that the SC will hear all cases via video and audio links during the five-week period.

“In order to contain the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19), considering the prevailing situation, and taking into account the suggestions received from various quarters and the guidelines issued by the Government of India and Government of NCT of Delhi from time to time, the Chief Justice of India has been pleased to direct the constitution of the bench(es) to hear matters in the coming weeks since the Virtual Courts will be functioning from May 18, 2020 to June 19, 2020 (both days inclusive), that is, during the earlier notified summer vacations through video conferencing/tele-conferencing mode only,” the top court said.

“The proceedings by video-conference should not be recorded/stored or broadcast, in any manner whatsoever, as recording/copying/storing and/or broadcasting, by any means, of the hearings and proceedings before the apex court are expressly prohibited,” the communication further stated.

“Once the pool of fresh matters is exhausted, matters belonging to Short Categories, which are ready for listing, will be listed before the court for hearing. In addition to the fresh matters and short category matters, such other matters shall also be listed for hearing, as may be directed,” it clarified.

The timing of sitting of virtual courts will be notified in the respective causelists, to be published well in advance.

The Advocate-on-Record or the parties in person have to specify whether he/she would link to the Bench through their own computer or prefer to avail the facility for video-conferencing in the Supreme Court premises.

“It may be further noted that smooth functioning of the video-conference is squarely dependent upon and subject to the connectivity (signal-strength/bandwidth) available at the end of the remote user(s), and hence it is expected that any party joining a video-conference hearing shall ensure robust connectivity and bandwidth are available at their end — in this regard, parties may use broadband connection of minimum 2 mbps/dedicated 4G data connection, and may also ensure that no other device or application is connected to or using the bandwidth when the hearing by video-conferencing is progressing on their Vidyo-enabled computer,” the SOP stated.

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