ISLAMABAD                    -              The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Thursday suggested that court cases should be heard through video link in view of the hardship litigants and counsels have to face when appearing before the Court during the coronavirus pandemic.

Justice Qazi Faez Isa, heading a two-member bench of the apex court, gave this proposal while he was hearing a rent case wherein the respondent counsel sought adjournment as he is advised self-quarantine.

According to the proposal, “the cases may be heard by the use of the said video-conferencing application after the confirmation of the lawyer’s identity. Applications such as Skype, WhatsApp, Telegram or any other suitable video conferencing platforms can be installed in the Supreme Court cell phone and the counsels should also be asked to install the same application on their devices.”

The proposal also said that in this regard demonstration of the workability of the proposed system be given to the representatives of Pakistan Bar Council and Supreme Court Bar Association, offices of Attorney General for Pakistan, Advocate Generals, and prosecutor generals for their opinion.

He further suggested that to maintain transparency and openness during the proceedings, the screen of the court cell phone may be mirrored on television sets which are already installed in every courtroom.

“The possibility of preserving the recording of the court proceedings (for a period of six months) be explored,” the proposal stated. The order proposed that each courtroom or bench be provided with a WiFi-connected cell-phone, while the number of cellular devices to be mentioned in the cause list and on the website of the apex court.

The divisional bench also recommended that this task be assigned to the apex court’s information and technology department. However, before using the proposed system, the IT wing should ensure successful trial runs. President SCBA Qalb-e-Hassan, who was summoned by the court to suggest what to do in this situation said that he is daily receiving calls from counsels stating that they are not in a position to be physically present on account of coronavirus and even those who are prepared to do so from outstation have no place to reside as the Supreme Hostel Complex and most of the hotels in Rawalpindi and Islamabad are closed.