Courts deliver justice despite challenges posed by COVID-19 pandemic

New Delhi, Mar 23 (PTI): The unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, including the nationwide lockdown a year ago, could not deter the judiciary from delivering justice as courts across the country adopted virtual mode of proceedings which also served as an opportunity to test the robustness of its digital infrastructure.
While the courts in the national capital started hearing cases through video-conferencing from March last year due to the pandemic, the functioning is gradually inching towards normalcy with the Supreme Court commencing hybrid hearings since March 15 this year.
Hybrid hearing is a combination of both virtual and physical hearing.
Similarly, physical hearings have resumed from last week in the Delhi High Court which had restricted its functioning to urgent matters only since March 16 last year and had later shifted to virtual mode of proceedings a few days later, from March 24.
Despite several challenges faced by the judiciary during the lockdown, courts dealt with several unprecedented issues having far reaching impact. The Supreme Court took cognisance of many COVID-19 related issues, including on migrant workers and providing treatment to patients infected with virus as well as dignified handling of dead bodies in hospitals.
It also dealt with issues related to providing adequate PPE kits to doctors and health workers, loan moratorium and also measures to reduce over crowding in jails across the country amid the pandemic. However, in view of resurgence in COVID-19 cases in the country, the Delhi High Court has recently issued a notification stating that hybrid and video-conferencing hearings would be allowed in cases where such requests are made by the parties or their advocates. The high court recently directed the district courts in the national capital that wherever possible, hybrid hearing be conducted.
As India came to a standstill during the coronavirus-induced lockdown which commenced from March 25 last year, the apex court not only swiftly switched to hearings through video-conferencing but also ensured that people have uninterrupted access to justice from the highest court in the country. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had last month said that the Supreme Court in India has conducted the highest number of hearings via video-conferencing from among the top courts of all the countries in the world during the pandemic.
On November 26 last year, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had complimented the judiciary for hearing over 49 lakh cases digitally during the challenging times of COVID-19 pandemic.
Not only did the courts continue functioning amid the pandemic over the last one year, they also dealt with a plethora of issues arising out of the situation including the migrant crisis in which workers started returning to their native places from big cities with their families trudging hundreds of miles due to the sudden nationwide lockdown.

Related Articles

Back to top button