In a press release by the Bar Council of India dated 22.05.20, it has stated that it has developed four video conferencing/ virtual hearing rooms along with well-equipped systems/ Wi-Fi for the convenience of the advocates of the Supreme Court and Delhi High Court. It was further revealed that nothing would be charged from the advocates for the use of these facilities and that these services would become operational from 26.05.20 (Tuesday).
This decision was taken to help the common Advocates, who have no chambers and/or system or necessary expertise available with them. This decision was taken in consideration with Hon’ble Chairman of the Bar Council of India, Mr. Manan Kumar Mishra, Senior Advocate Supreme Court. It was also notified that he had taken this important decision on the request of several Advocates who were facing acute difficulties in doing their cases considering the present situation.
The guidelines issued in the notice stated that the advocates need to send an email to email@example.com to book their time-slots at least 36 hours in advance. Further the reservations would be granted on ‘first-cum-first-serve-basis’ and that this facility will be made available from 10.00 AM to 02.00 PM daily i.e. from Monday to Friday except for Court and National Holidays.
For better assistance there would be computer-friendly staff which would help the Advocates for facilitating the work of conferencing/filing. It is also stated that not more than 2 persons would be allowed to enter the Bar Council of India premises at once for a single case, however, if both sides come to the hearing room in one case, then the maximum limit of persons to be allowed would be 6.
Further, the notification read that only the Advocates and their clerks who have received their e-passes issued by the Bar Council of India, which would be emailed to them prior to their booking slot would be allowed to enter the said premises with the passes duly signed by the Secretary or an authorized officer. Also the release specifies that shoes won’t be allowed inside the video conferencing room and the facilities for e-fillings will only be available for the needy Advocates/ A.O.R’s after a week.
The learned and respected Advocates would also be required to adhere to all social distancing norms and thereby wear the N95 masks at all-time along with adequate sanitization of their hands with alcohol-based sanitizers. Another notification issued by the Bar Council of India elucidated that the Bar Council of India is in the process of developing a well-equipped Arbitration and Mediation Centre which would indeed be beneficial and hopefully functional in the next 5-6 weeks.