Covid-19: SC proposes mechanism to hear cases via video link

Proposal is subject to approval by Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed


Hasnaat Malik April 16, 2020
PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) of Pakistan on Thursday proposed a mechanism of hearing cases via video link amid the spread of Covid-19 virus and consequent difficulties faced by litigants and counsels.

An SC division bench, presided by Justice Qazi Faez Isa, proposed the said mechanism which is subject to the approval of Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Gulzar Ahmed.

The order proposed that each courtroom or bench be provided with a WiFi-connected cell phone while the number of cellular devices to be mentioned in the cause list and on the website of the apex court.

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The proposal also suggested that applications such as Skype, WhatsApp, Telegram or any other suitable video conferencing platform be installed in the said Supreme Court cell phone and the counsel should also be asked to install the same application in their devices.

After the identity of counsel is verified, cases may be heard by the use of the said video-conferencing application.

The proposal further suggested maintaining transparency and openness during the proceedings and that the screen of the court cell phone may be mirrored on television sets which are already installed in every courtroom.

“The possibility of preserving the recording of the court proceedings (six months) be explored,” the proposal stated.

The divisional bench also recommended that this task be assigned to the apex court's information and technology department. However, before using the proposed system, the IT wing should ensure successful trial runs.

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The Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) and Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), offices of Attorney General for Pakistan and advocate generals and prosecutor generals to be given a demonstration of the workability of the proposed system and consider their suggestion, says the proposal.

The bench gave this proposal in a case wherein an adjournment application was received by a counsel, who is above 60 years of age, and he is advised to self-quarantine.

Later, SCBA President Syed Qalb-e-Hassan also told the bench that he is also receiving calls from lawyers regarding their inability to attend the court proceedings due to the coronavirus outbreak.

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