The health of the judicial stakeholders is non-negotiable as is the health of the Constitution
A seven-member panel of the Supreme Court of India has decided to continue with the virtual hearing system amid the Covid-19 pandemic. This is in line with the global trend of technology assisting humans to overcome the debilitating impact of the micro organism.
The court will, on later date, decide if it would return to the physical form of hearing, which the lawyers associations have been demanding.
There have been complaints of technical glitches even now; and hopefully they will be fixed soon and the proceedings will go on smoothly. That the committee of judges must have factored in the likely impact of Covid-19 on the health of the judges, lawyers and the litigants cannot be faulted.
However, one is forced to recall the court’s earlier decision to put off hearing in habeas corpus petitions for several months and the initial act of ignoring the plight of the guest workers, which had left many in doubt about the health and ability of our Constitution to protect the weakest against the acts of the state.
The health of the judicial stakeholders is non-negotiable as is the health of the Constitution.
Now that technology has entered the process of justice delivery, the court may also explore the possibility of making it a partner in its sacred job in the future. Jurists have long complained about the spiraling cost of accessing justice.
It would be a welcome idea if the apex court will give the lawyers an option to participate in hearings online even after the virus is gone.
This way, it may be able to partly address the long-standing demand for a bench of the court in the South, to which it has not been sympathetic yet.
No virus has ever been proved to be beneficial to other organisms but this can have some positive impact, who knows!