HC justifies virtual court proceedings, rejects plea challenging its legality

The High Court has justified the law that empowered the courts of the country to virtually carry out judicial proceedings through videoconferencing and other digital means.

The HC also summarily rejected a writ petition that challenged the legality of the Usage of Information Communication Technology by Court Act, 2020, allowing the virtual court functions.

The HC bench of Justice Jahangir Hossain Selim and Justice Md Badiuzzaman on Wednesday passed the order after holding hearing on the petition filed by Supreme Court lawyer AKM Asiful Haque last month.

The HC said in the rejection order that the virtual court system has been introduced in many countries including neighbouring India during the Covid-19 pandemic in order to avert infections, Deputy Attorney General Dr Md Bashir Ullah told The Daily Star.

Citing the High Court's observation, the DAG said virtual court functions are not any camera proceedings as lawyers, litigants and even media persons can participate in the court proceedings through using information technology.

The HC also said the contents of the Usage of Information Communication Technology by Court Act, 2020 are not contradictory to the constitution of the republic, DAG Bashir Ullah added.

Attorney General AM Amin Uddin opposed the writ petition, while writ petitioner AKM Asiful Haque himself argued for the petition.

Asiful Haque in his writ petition last month said that the Usage of Information Communication Technology by Court Act, 2020 is contradictory to the constitution as there was no recommendation from the president for passing the law as a money bill in the parliament.

He also said in the petition that the bill on the law has been passed hurriedly in the parliament and therefore, it might have some provisions contradictory to the constitution.

The parliament on July 8 passed the bill titled Usage of Information Communication Technology by Court Act, 2020, in a bid to empower the country's courts in carrying out trial proceedings through videoconferencing and other digital means amid the pandemic.

Earlier, an ordinance was promulgated by President Abdul Hamid with an aim to reduce the backlog of a huge number of cases in different courts due to countrywide closure since March 25. The ordinance was approved by the cabinet on May 7.

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