Mithran Suresh, Delhi
Executive with its three ‘Ms’ of money, men and material is better-suited to deal with COVID-19 crisis: Chief Justice of India S. A. Bobde told The Hindu in a phone interview that the three ‘Ms’ — money, men and material — are with the Executive, which is the most suitable organ of governance to deal with the problems arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown. The CJI clarified that hearing of cases through videoconferencing are not in-camera hearings and virtual courts are not closed courts.The Supreme Court has acted with certain restraint during the lockdown days
Imagine if this was an earthquake or floods or whatever… This is really a situation when the Executive gets into action. The usual three ‘Ms’ are ‘men, material and money’. It is very difficult for the court to assume charge and say ‘this is what the priority should be’ and ‘this is what it should be like’. The Executive is better suited to decide on the ‘whats’, ‘hows’ and ‘whens’ of deploying money, material and men.
The virus has changed the way cases are heard, from open court system to videoconferencing
Videoconferencing does not mean courts are closed. Virtual courts are not in-camera courts. When the video links are given, there are people who can see what is happening on the screen from where the lawyers address the court. We are not prohibiting that. It is not a binary situation.
The distinction made between videoconferencing and open court system is not accurate. A better description would be virtual courts and ‘courts in congregation’.
There is no absence of openness in the present videoconferencing proceedings. Things are not being decided without anybody coming to know. Litigants can watch the proceedings. Lawyers are present. The other side is there. The court is there. Court staff is there. Live reporting by the media is happening. Even people who are waiting for their cases to be called out are watching.
Yes, maybe the number of people who could attend like in a court in congregation is reduced. That is because a social distancing norm is in place as it is being done all over the country.
What has changed in the justice administration system after the lockdown
Cases taken up/decided by the Supreme Court during COVID-19 lockdown from March 23 to April 24:593 cases heard,17 days of hearing,87 Benches convened, including 34 Benches for main matters and 53 Benches for review petitions,41 judgments delivered 84 review petitions decided
The court is going through a unique experience during the time of the COVID-19 lockdown which has crossed 30 days. Courts are continuing to hear cases despite constraints through videoconferencing.