Pandemic and court cases

Virtual hearing of court cases has become necessary to expedite justice in order to provide relief to litigants

Editorial May 08, 2020
Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass but it is about learning to dance in the rain. For more than a month and a half a lockdown has been imposed in various forms in nearly the whole country to protect people from the contagious coronavirus. People in legal circles — like those in other spheres of life — have demanded hearing of court cases via video links so as to maintain social distance in a bid to avoid the deadly virus. The legal fraternity believes that this is necessary to avoid further addition to an already huge backlog of cases. The fraternity wants hearing of cases via video links with all precautions put in place so that judges, lawyers, the litigants and court staff could be protected from the mushrooming coronavirus.

The President of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), Syed Kalb-e-Hassan, says lawyers are facing financial difficulties because of the prolonged lockdown in the country and their problems would increase further if this situation persists. The SCBA has so far given financial help to some 65 lawyers, and high court bar associations are also asking for financial aid from the government in view of the financial problems being faced by the lawyers. Raising the plight of the lawyers community, the SCBA president has mentioned the Supreme Court order of April 16 in which Justice Qazi Faez Isa has proposed hearing of cases via video link in view of the coronavirus contagion. The proposal was forwarded to Justice Gulzar Ahmed, the Chief Justice of Pakistan, for consideration and approval and his response is awaited.

The proponents of the idea of virtual court hearings say the Supreme Court’s information technology department should be assigned the task of putting in place the necessary installations. They also emphasise the need for ensuring transparency in the whole process. The Pakistan Bar Council, the SCBA, the Attorney General of Pakistan, and top law officers of the provinces should be taken on board on the matter. Virtual hearing of court cases has become necessary to expedite justice in order to provide relief to litigants. Life has to go on.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 8th, 2020.

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