JAMMU, APRIL 30: In the wake of nationwide lockdown imposed by Government of India to curb the spread of novel Corona virus (COVID-19), High Court of Jammu and Kashmir as well as the District Courts of UTs of J&K and Ladakh are taking up exceptionally urgent matters for hearing through Virtual mode only.
After imposition of national lockdown due to COVID-19, access to all the courts of UTs of J&K and Ladakh including that of the High Court was closed by the High Court and it was decided to hear exceptionally urgent cases only through Video conferencing and calls.
To carry out the proceedings via video conferencing/calls, the Judges are hearing urgent cases from their respective residences/Offices and the lawyers are advancing arguments in such listed matters from their respective homes or offices.
It is pertinent to mention that during the lockdown period, High Court of Jammu and Kashmir has heard a total of 127 cases of exceptionally urgent nature through Virtual mode while as District Courts of UTs of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh have heard 4344 matters.
The protocol governing the hearing of cases through virtual mode has already been issued by the High Court of J&K.
As per the directions issued by Chief Justice, the concerned Registrar Judicial of the wing in coordination with e-Courts Wing of the High Court, after seeking necessary orders, made necessary arrangements for hearing of exceptionally urgent cases from the residence(s) of the Judges through virtual mode only.In majority of the cases heard through Virtual mode, High Court is conducting hearing through the “Vidyo” app which is easily available for download on mobile phones as well as desktop.
Vidyo app is recommended by e-Committee Supreme Court of India as a VC solution for the Courts and is hosted on NIC servers. A web-link is sent by the Courts to Lawyers and litigants for joining the hearing of the cases through Video Conferencing.
Such is the extent of adaptability of the Information Technology tools by the High Court as well as lawyers of J&K that on some occasions, in a single case, more than 30 lawyers appear before the court through Video Conferencing/calls.Helpline numbers for redressal of complaints regarding Video Conferencing related issues in High Court as well as District Courts have also been issued and hosted on the official website of the High Court as well as on websites of all the District Courts.
In order to ensure easy access of litigants, lawyers and general public to information relating to a case, a separate and dedicated space is earmarked on the official website of the High Court for hosting orders and judgments passed by different benches of the High Court during the present COVID-19 lockdown.
In a first in the country, during the COVID-19 lockdown period, High Court of Jammu and Kashmir, has taken the initiative of giving advance dates to the cases so as to streamline further listing of the cases as well as keeping lawyers and litigants informed about the progress of their respective cases.