County court systems are using technology to perform business throughout COVID-19 social distancing, and some of such implementations produce results that could contribute to long-term improvements. In the past three months, COVID-19 social distancing has changed the court systems’ administrative functions.
However, for some time several courts have been set up to perform tasks remotely — especially in cases involving juveniles or other vulnerable participants — the rate at which they have used technology throughout this way is limited. Covid-19 has completely changed the working systems of courtrooms.
The apex court has agreed to address only cases requiring an immediate hearing and has limited casual visitors’ entry. The court’s public visits are rescheduled, and its canteens are shut down. Visitors undergo thermal screening and are often required to fill out self-declaring forms. The court asked attorneys and other staff to vacate to sanitize premises after 6 p.m.
The Supreme Court would soon implement court hearings service over video conferencing. It plans to require separate rooms for attorneys to discuss their cases from inside the premises through video-conferencing. The court will also launch an app to allow attorneys from their offices to participate in the hearings.
Bombay High Court
The court also asked the bar to collaborate in limiting entry only to anyone whose participation is mandatory for legal purposes. Attorneys have been asked to notify the registry if their cases have to be removed as a matter of urgency from the court list of the day and all other cases will receive an immediate rehearing.
Delhi High Court
The High Court register will draw up the cases that require immediate listing and the court will take up only such cases on an emergent basis. The high court has also recommended that district courts take up only those cases that require bail.
The courts are just another part of the public sector that is experiencing what some private sector businesses have learned for years-it is always simpler to do things by telephone or video chat than finding time to review a dozen more individuals in the same place. It is a learning opportunity during the crisis, but as those involved point out, it is also a lesson which can influence the way work is done.