NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday decided to seal the chambers of lawyers and said only one court would hear ‘extremely urgent’ matters through video-conferencing.
“We don’t want any congregation of lawyers in the premise. One court will be sitting once a week to take up extremely urgent matters that too through virtual means. We will be sharing video link with the lawyers whose case is listed and they can even argue from their chambers or from their home,” the bench said.
An app by the name of Vidyo can be used by lawyers who want to appear before the special bench hearing only urgent matters.
A bench headed by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde cancelled the proximity entry cards of the lawyers and other staff members from Monday so that no one is allowed inside the premises.
The court also made it clear that only senior advocate Dushyant Dave, president of Supreme Court Bar Association, can authorise a person to enter the premises for a very urgent reason.
The bench said the court will invoke its plenary powers under Article 142 to direct extending indefinitely the limitation period for filing appeals against orders of high courts or any tribunal, so as not to render them time-barred because of the pandemic.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said the limitations of appeals which are about to expire in four-six weeks should be deemed to have been extended.
Expressing concern over conducting hearings via video conferencing, senior advocate A M Singhvi pointed out even that would require lawyers to assemble at one place and told the bench something needs to be worked out for this as well.
“We will devise a mechanism in which an identity of lawyers will be created and they can argue even sitting in their chambers or from their home,” the bench said adding that modalities will be worked out.
Functioning of Delhi High Court and courts subordinate to it has been suspended till April 4. ‘Extraordinary urgent’ matters will be mentioned via telephone and hearing thereof will be held via video conferencing.