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Lawyers anxious over slow function of virtual courts

22 January 2022

Gulam Rabbani :
In the backdrop of new surge of the Coronavirus in recent days, the Supreme Court administration has decided to continue all the proceedings of both the divisions of the apex court through virtual process. But, the decision has created a folding of thought in the forehead of many of the Supreme Court lawyers because the functions of the virtual courts are not smooth as the regular courts.
Since the detection of the Coronavirus in the country in March 2020, the court proceedings were not normal for a long time. As a result, many lawyers fell in financial crisis. Many of them quit the profession. Many embraced alternative ways for their livelihoods. However, some relief came back to them when the courts proceedings started with physical presence as well as the virtual process.
After more than a year and a half, the judicial proceedings of both the divisions of the Supreme Court started in a physical presence strictly following health safety rules since December 1 last year. But after only a month and a half, it has been made virtual again.
Two separate notifications were issued on Tuesday in this regard by the Supreme Court Registrar General Md Ali Akbar.
All the Appellate Division and High Court division benches will conduct judicial activities only through
virtual process that began on January 19, read the notifications.
Advocate Khurshid Alam Khan, a Senior Supreme Court lawyer, said, "Although many lawyers will face a crisis due to the virtualization of all the courts under the Supreme Court, since there was no alternative of it. Circumstances forced the resumption of the virtual process of the courts."
Pointing out some limitations of the virtual courts, Barrister Ruhul Quddus Kazal, Secretary of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), said, "None under the jurisdictions that the courts exercise in physical presence should be curtailed during the virtual process. Earlier, the anticipatory bail hearing was suspended at one stage in the virtual courts. It will not be right to suspend it."
The lawyers' leader also said, "We want virtual courts with all jurisdictions including anticipatory bail hearing. We will cooperate with the Chief Justice's decision."
Masud Rana, a Supreme Court lawyer, said, "Except for court hearings, all the procedures have to be done in a virtual court in physical presence. Moreover, due to weak network, it is not possible to place a proper submission in the court in a case. As a result, the expected order is not found."
Meanwhile, some of the High Court benches though functioning virtually are hearing the anticipatory bail petitions. Some litigants secured anticipatory bail from the benches in last two working days.

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