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Lower courts can hold hearings virtually from Sunday as COVID cases spike

  • Court Correspondent,
    Published: 2022-01-23 00:53:06 BdST


Lower courts can hold hearings virtually or in-person from Sunday as coronavirus infections continue to soar in Bangladesh.

Supreme Court’s Registrar General Ali Akbar sent instructions on case proceedings to the subordinate courts following Chief Justice Hasan Foez Siddique’s orders on Saturday, said Birendranath Roy, a shorthand writer of Dhaka District and Sessions Judges’ Court.

The law as well as High Court’s instructions on holding hearings by using information and communication technology will have to be followed during virtual hearings.

For in-person hearings, the judges will need to take measures to prevent infections after consulting the leaders of lawyers.

The Appellate Division and High Court Division of the Supreme Court resumed virtual hearings on Jan 19.

The judiciary went on holiday in March, 2020, coinciding with the lockdown imposed by the government in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus infections across Bangladesh. Theoretically, the judiciary was shut down for that period.

On May 9, 2020, an ordinance was issued at the behest of the Supreme Court to use information technology in court proceedings such as trials, judicial investigations, appeal hearings, hearing testimonies or arguments and also to ensure the presence of all parties while a court issues an order or announces a verdict.

The Supreme Court issued a practice guidance on May 10 for running the court proceedings using digital platforms like videoconferencing.

The virtual court opened the next day for the first time in Bangladesh’s history.

As the coronavirus pandemic began to ebb, some of the lower courts opened for in-person court proceedings, following strict health protocols.

Gradually some High Court benches also resumed in-person court proceedings. The virtual court, however, continued to run simultaneously.

The Appellate Division and the Chamber Courts, the top courts in the country, were running on virtual platforms.

In an effort to stop the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, the government put restrictions on the shopping malls, stores, restaurants and also halted the public transport service in April.

Virtual hearings continued on a limited scale at the time.