The High Court yesterday justified the law that has empowered the country's courts to virtually carry out the judicial proceedings through videoconferences and other digital means.
The HC 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 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 virtual court system has been introduced in many countries including neighbouring India during the Covid-19 pandemic in order to avert infection, Deputy Attorney General Dr Md Bashir Ullah told The Daily Star.
Citing the HC observation, he said virtual court functions are not "in-camera proceedings", as lawyers, litigants and even media persons can participate in this court proceedings through using information technology.
The HC also said the contents of the act are not contradictory to the constitution of the country, DAG Bashir Ullah added.
Attorney General AM Amin Uddin opposed the writ petition while writ petitioner AKM Asiful Haque himself argued for the petition.
The lawyer, in the writ petition, said that the law is contradictory to the constitution as there was no recommendation from the president for passing it as a money bill in the parliament.
He also said the bill on the law has been passed hurriedly in the parliament.
The parliament on July 8 passed "Adalat Kartrik Tathya Projukti Byabohar Bill 2020" in a bid to empower country's courts in carrying out trial proceedings through videoconferences and other digital means. Law Minister Anisul Huq placed the bill which was passed by voice votes.
Earlier, an ordinance was promulgated by President Abdul Hamid with an aim to reduce the backlog of huge number of cases in different courts due to countrywide closure since March 25.
The ordinance was approved by the cabinet on May 7.
According to the previous law, the trial proceedings were only run in physical presence of judges, counsels and witnesses in the court.
Following promulgation of the ordinance, it was possible to run the proceedings during the coronavirus situation as social distancing was necessary to contain the spread of Covid-19.
It was possible for the judges to run the trial proceedings through videoconferences and other digital means keeping the accused in jails, the lawyers in their residences and the witnesses in other places during the coronavirus crisis as per the ordinance.