The Bar Council of India (BCI) has urged the Centre to provide iPads and laptops to needy lawyers across the country to enable them to avail the facility of e-filing and virtual hearings of courts.
In a resolution passed on Wednesday, the Apex bar body also reiterated its demand to the Supreme Court and high courts to take early steps to resume hearings in open courts depending on the prevailing conditions of the places.
“The Union Government, in collaboration with the state governments, is requested and required to provide basic iPads/laptops to all needy advocates of the country for the purposes of e-filing and virtual hearings from the confines of their private space, from their homes, offices etc.”BCI said.
It said free and effective WiFi connections in the premises of all the bar associations of the country with advanced scanners and advanced Computer systems of a minimum of at least two in all district courts, four in all high courts and one in taluka courts bar associations should be provided.
The decision was taken in a meeting held on August 12, Bar Council of India chairman Manan Kumar Mishra said, adding that he would write to the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice of India, all Chief Ministers, the Union Minister for Law and Justice, the Electronics and Information Technology and Communications Department, chairperson of e-committee of the Supreme Court and all Chief Justices of high courts.
Apart from this, the letter calls for the resumption of physical hearings at Courts wherever the COVID-19 situation is under control. The letter enjoins courts to take steps to enforce effective social distancing norms and sanitization of the court premises at least twice a day.
Whereas the Supreme Court had sought for data pertaining to advocates in the country to facilitate the virtual hearings and e-filings, the Bar Council of India has highlighted that the support of the Government is also vital.
The Council notes that the data-collection exercise would be meaningless without the support of governments to help tide over the pandemic.
Read the Press Release here: