‘COVID management patch’ developed for lower courts to check overcrowding amid pandemic

The patch entails a set of protocols detailing measures that can be adopted to facilitate smart scheduling of cases, slotting hearings, and avoiding overlapping of hearings.

As courts resume physical hearing after easing of COVID-19-induced lockdown in the country, the National Information Centre (NIC) has introduced a “COVID management patch” to allow judicial officers to retain only urgent cases to prevent overcrowding of courtrooms and impede the spread of the virus.

The COVID-19 Management Patch has been developed in the case information system (CIS) to help in smart scheduling of cases, according to information put in public domain by the Department of Justice in the Law Ministry.

According to one such document, the patch enables the courts to proceed in a systematic and planned manner to reduce the risks associated with the presence of a large number of people in court premises.

This will help contain the spread of COVID-19 in district and subordinate courts.

A team of NIC at Pune, under the guidance of eCommittee of Supreme Court, had developed the patch last year. It is a set of protocols setting out the measures that can be adopted by the district judiciary to facilitate smart scheduling of cases, allotting time slots for hearings, and avoiding overlapping of hearings involving the same advocate in different courts.

It seeks to protect the safety of all stakeholders, including litigants, lawyers, court staff and judges, the document said.

The patch allows judicial officers to retain urgent cases and adjourn the not-urgent cases on cause list to prevent overcrowding of court rooms.

Between March 24, 2020 when the nationwide lockdown was imposed and September 31 last year, the nearly 19,000 district courts heard 19,33,492 cases virtually, according to the Department of Justice. Now cases are being heard physically in lower courts across India.

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