A notification to this effect was issued by the Senior Registrar on Monday, January 10.
“In the first phase of the rollout and changeover to the new video conferencing platform, all matters before Court Nos. 1 & 2 shall be heard on the WebEx Events platform w.e.f. Tuesday, i.e. 11.01.2022. In all the remaining Courts, the link for the virtual hearing of cases shall be sent through SMS on the mobile number of the Ld. Advocate which is mentioned in their Advocate on Roll record,” the notification said.
It further said that the new platform simplifies the procedure for participating in virtual court proceedings by doing away with the system of lawyers depending on receiving individual SMS invitations daily to join court proceedings.
“It enables lawyers, litigants in person to witness virtual court proceedings in real time while waiting in the Attendee Gallery/Waiting Room for their matter to be called,” it said.
The notification also stated that the remaining Courts at Lucknow shall switch over to the new platform in batches notice/s in respect of which shall be published separately.
Notably, in May 2021, a public interest litigation (PIL) was filed before the Allahabad High Court by two journalists, Areeb Uddin Ahmed (of Bar and Bench) and Sparsh Upadhyay (of Live Law), to allow live reporting and streaming of High Court proceedings.
The plea invoked the fundamental right to press, which is part of the right to freedom of speech in order to gain access to virtual or physical hearings and report the same as they occur.
“The said right corresponds with the people’s right to know and to access justice and the all-encompassing dignity of the populace,” the petition had said.
The High Court had sought response from its administrative side on the steps taken by the High Court to make court proceedings accessible to public in the light of the directions issued by the Supreme Court in Swapnil Tripathi v. Union of India.
Subsequently, the Allahabad High Court on July 3, 2021, had adopted CISCO WebEx events platform for virtual hearing of cases at its Prayagraj Bench.
Meanwhile, the Allahabad High Court on Monday decided to revert to complete virtual hearing at both its principal seat at Allahabad and the Bench at Lucknow, after eight Judges and few staff members tested positive for COVID-19.
The decision to switch back to virtual mode came just after 6 days when the High Court had decided to allow hybrid mode of hearings, in which lawyers have the option to appear physically or via video conference.
Last week, three Judges of the Allahabad High Court had tested positive and now, a total of eight judges (3 from Lucknow, 5 from Prayagraj) have been infected with COVID-19.