Virtual Court: A landmark step in judiciary...

Dhaka, Monday   10 August 2020

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Virtual Court: A landmark step in judiciary

 Ahmed Tanvir

 Published: 07:51 PM, 26 June 2020   Updated: 11:37 PM, 26 June 2020

Virtual Court: A landmark step in judiciary

Virtual Court: A landmark step in judiciary

Court proceedings are being carried out using information technology including video conferencing amid this coronavirus pandemic. Concerned consider the introduction of virtual courts as a landmark decision of the government. Although a virtual court has been set up for emergencies, the judiciary sees it as a milestone in the establishment of e-judiciary. However, many say that while virtual courts are useful in coronavirus situation, conducting online trials is always a matter of time.

The virtual court is a new addition to the country's judicial system during the coronavirus situation after the President's Ordinance was issued. President M Abdul Hamid issued an ordinance allowing the operation of the virtual court for a period of time in response to the request of the full court meeting of the Supreme Court on May 9.

At present, trials are being held in virtual chambers of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, 13 virtual benches of the High Court Division, and judge courts across the country.

Attorney General Mahbubey Alam, the state's chief legal officer and chairman of the Bar Council, said virtual courts are a bit of a technical problem in the beginning, but you have to learn it for your needs. We are trying to overcome that. It is certainly a landmark step.

When asked about the virtual court, former law minister Barrister Shafiq Ahmed said people could not go to court now because of coronavirus pandemic. Trials are underway in virtual courts to ensure the constitutional rights of citizens. It is a temporary arrangement.

He said the court was granting bail through a virtual hearing in the lower court. That's right. But in the case of contested matters, where witnesses are required, hearings in virtual courts are not possible. He further said that the order of the virtual court in the matter of public interest in the high court undoubtedly deserves praise. The former law minister also said that the virtual court would play a pioneering role in establishing e-judiciary.

Supreme Court Bar Association president Advocate AM Amin Uddin said the ordinance would be useful for criminal trials even if the virtual court was set up for emergencies. For example, in criminal cases, trials are delayed because many witnesses do not come or are out of the country. As a result of the ordinance on virtual courts, the courts will now be able to take witnesses in these cases by video conference or online. Lawyers will gradually become accustomed to using information technology even if they face temporary difficulties.

Law Minister Anisul Haque said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had started the work of transforming the country into a digital Bangladesh since 1996. Her aim was to bring all the offices under Digital Bangladesh. A project was also taken up to do e-judiciary and the work was going on. An ordinance has been issued to bring this step into the legal process.

So far, 39,202 people get bail through virtual courts across the country. According to Supreme Court sources, 73,116 bail applications have been disposed of in a virtual bench hearing in lower courts across the country in a total of 25 working days from May 11 to June 18.