When world is panicked over new virus SC can’t stop virtual system

02 December 2021

Staff Reporter :
The Supreme Court on Wednesday resumed its trial proceedings with direct physical presence instead of virtual both and in person hearing when different countries of the world are imposing new lockdowns in their cities due to spread of the new variants of Covid-19.
An Appellate Division bench headed by Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain held hearing since 9.00 am on Wednesday, after more than a year and a half. All the High Court division benches also held hearing with physical presence.
Earlier on Nov 29 a notification of the SC said that the judicial proceedings of both the divisions of the Supreme Court are set to begin from December 1 in physical presence strictly following health safety rules.
Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain has taken the decision after consulting with senior judges of the SC, said the notification issued by Md Ali Akbar, Registrar General of the SC.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the Omicron coronavirus variant poses a high risk of infection around the globe. The variant could lead to severe consequences in some regions, the WHO said on Monday last.
The head of the organization, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, renewed a call for a global push to get vaccines to poorer nations. Covid-19 is "not done with us" yet he warned.
In this situation many countries in the world are imposing new restrictions and lockdowns in their cities to fight Omicron variant.
But our Supreme Court resumes its activities with physical presence excluding the virtual process which has created tension among the older lawyers. A section of Supreme Court lawyers suggested that virtual court proceedings should be allowed to continue as the Coronavirus pandemic has not ended yet, and that necessary steps should be taken in upgrading the technology in order to facilitate this.
The death of some lawyers and judges after being affected by Covid-19 has reinforced the importance of this view.
The lawyers said that digital functions can be continued along with the regular proceedings as it is cheaper and faster, besides addressing locational and economic shortcomings.
It also ensures safety of vulnerable witnesses, expedites processes, and is an improvement over traditional courts since virtual courtrooms are more affordable, people-friendly and offer greater access to justice, they  opined.
All the courts in the country were declared closed for the first time in March last year due to the coronavirus outbreak. After that, the activities of the judiciary were completely stopped for about two months.
In the face of the demands of the justice seeking people and the lawyers, finally a law was enacted to launch the judicial activities through virtual process. After enacting the law the first virtual court was introduced in the Supreme Court on May 10 that year.
Due to the awfulness of the coronavirus situation, only a few virtual courts were functional initially. Later some physical courts were also opened considering the interest of the lawyers following the health guidelines.
Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain on April 11 decided to run the court functions on a limited scale in the new lockdown period. All the courts across the country including the Appellate and High Court divisions returned to the judicial activities again since August 11 as the lockdown restrictions were relaxed.
Both the divisions of the higher judiciary were functioning through only the virtual process, while the subordinate courts acted in both processes, physically and virtually.

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