Mahbub & Company | Making Virtual Courts a Reality: Compilation of the Rules and Procedures
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Making Virtual Courts a Reality: Compilation of the Rules and Procedures

Making Virtual Courts a Reality: Compilation of the Rules and Procedures

On May 7, 2020, the government of Bangladesh made a bid for the resumption of the two-month long stagnant judicial activities by publishing a gazette notification which introduces laws on the procedure of virtual court in Bangladesh.

The contemporary “Ordinance for Usage of Information and Communication Technology by Court, 2020”, consisting of five sections, aims to provide rules for the smooth operation of courts amid the Covid19 crisis using information and communication technology (ICT). Applications would be filed using technology, and court participation by litigants, lawyers and judges would be ensured by creating a virtual avenue for trial or appeal hearings.

This article summarises the virtual court procedures applicable to the Appellate Division, High Court Division and the Subordinate Courts.

Appellate Division

Application Procedure

  1. Any Advocate on Record wishing to file an application/petition is required to file such application/petition via the email address of the Court Associate of the concerned Court along with an application requesting virtual hearing and giving reason(s) for urgency within 1 (one) page. The relevant email address of the concerned Court Associate shall be published in the Supreme Court Website.
  2. The soft copy of the application/petition is to be typed on legal size paper giving double spacing, two-inch margin and using size 14 Times New Roman font. Alternatively, any application/petition typed on blue paper may be scanned and uploaded electronically and sent via e-mail to the concerned Court Associate.
  3. Scanned copy of any documentary evidence produced in support of the application/petition must be in PDF format and authenticated and certified by the filing Advocate on Record.
  4. Wakalatnama, containing the name, mobile phone number, email address and Bar Association membership number of the filing advocate on Record, is to be uploaded by the concerned Advocate on Record by scanning the same and sending it via email in PDF format.
  5. Court fees and costs, which are to be assessed by the relevant section, shall be paid by the party concerned within 72 hours of the reopening of regular Court.
  6. The filing Advocate on Record will give undertaking as to the truth of the statements made in the application/petition and the genuineness of document annexed. If later on it is found that any false  statement was made or any false/forged document was produced, then the person responsible shall be dealt with in accordance with the law.
  7. On receipt of the application/petition and when the appropriate section allocates a regular case number, the case number prefixed with the letters ‘VC’ will be given by the concerned Court associate, which shall be communicated to the filing Advocate on Record by SMS and email and used until resumption of regular Court.
  8. On receipt of the application/petition, the concerned Court Associate will print out the soft copy and create a hard copy record.
  9. Soft copy of the application/petition with supported documents, if any, shall be forwarded to the concerned Judge through email.

Hearing Procedure

  1. On receipt thereof, the concerned Judge shall, upon considering the urgency of the matter, fix a date and time of hearing and accordingly inform the Court Associate concerned.
  2. The Court Associate upon receipt of the date of hearing of the matter shall post the matter in the online cause list, and at the same time send an e-mail/SMS to the filing Advocate on Record the caveator, if any, and the office of the Attorney General informing them of the date and time of hearing upon supplying them with a soft copy of the application/petition and supporting documents, if any and also intimating that the hearing will be held by virtual means using Microsoft Teams applications or any other video conferencing application to be notified, and may advice the Advocates concerned, if necessary, to download the application and be ready to join the virtual hearing 15 minutes before the time fixed for hearing.
  3. The concerned Judge and the Concerned Advocates shall be properly dressed in Court dress except the gown and maintain decorum in the virtual hearing.
  4. After conclusion of the hearing, the Order of the court shall be pronounced and the written Order signed by the Judge shall be scanned, uploaded and communicated by the concerned Court Associate via email to the Advocate on Record of the concerned party/parties, the office of the Attorney General and the concerned Court below, as the case may be.
  5. If during hearing the video connectivity is lost, then hearing will continue upon reconnection. If it is not possible to conclude the hearing for any reason, then the Judge shall fix another date and time for virtual hearing.
  6. In the course of virtual hearing if any difficulty arises, then the concerned Judge may resort to such measures as may be necessary for the smooth operation of the virtual hearing of the case.        

High Court Division

Eligibility

The following types of cases are amenable to hearing in the virtual High Court Division: emergency writ, criminal, civil, company, admiralty motions, (will, dissolution of marriage, trademarks, arbitration related jurisdictions).

Application Procedure

The application is to be typed on legal-size paper giving double spacing, two inch margin and using size 14 Times New Roman font, printed on blue paper and then may be scanned and sent via email to the concerned Bench Officer along with:

  1. an application requesting virtual hearing giving reason(s) for urgency within one page;
  2. Scanned copy of documentary evidence, if any, produced in support of the application must be in PDF format and authenticated and certified by the filing lawyer; and
  3. Scanned copy of Wakalatnama is to be in PDF format containing the name, mobile phone number, email address and membership number of the filing lawyer who will give undertaking as to the truth of the statements made in the petition and genuineness of any documents annexed. Court fees and costs shall be paid by the party in accordance with the relevant Section within 72 hours of reopening of regular Court.

Hearing Procedure

On receipt of the petition, the BO will print out the same and create a hard copy record stating a case number consisting of the concerned Court number and inform the filing lawyer of it via email or SMS and a soft of the same shall be forwarded through email to the Hon’ble Judge who, upon considering the urgency of the matter, shall fix a date and time of hearing and inform the BO who shall post the matter in the online cause list and inform the same to the filing lawyer, opponent’s lawyer and office of the Attorney General informing them of the date and time of hearing upon supplying all the documents concerned intimating that the hearing will be held by virtual means and the parties will be required to join the virtual hearing 15 minutes before the time fixed for hearing. The Hon’ble Judge and the Advocates shall be properly dressed in Court dress except the Gown and maintain decorum in the virtual hearing. After conclusion of hearing, the order of the Court shall be pronounced, and a scanned copy of the order signed by the Hon’ble Judge shall be communicated to the parties concerned via email and uploaded by the BO. In case of disconnection during the hearing, the hearing will continue upon reconnection, failing of which the Hon’ble Judge will fix another date and time for hearing, or if there is any other difficulty, the Hon’ble Judge will take necessary measures. 

Subordinate Courts 

Eligibility

Only Bail Applications are admissible in virtual Subordinate Courts.

Application Procedure

  1. Bail application can be submitted using either of the two systems: email system or e-filing system, latter can be accessed via <mycourt.judiciry.org.bd> web link.
  2. E-mail addresses of the concerned Court will be provided by the office of the learned Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Court or the learned Chief Judicial Magistrate Court. [Note: Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Court, Dhaka has provided 4 (four) email addresses: cmmdhaka.vc1@gmail.com; cmmdhaka.vc2@gmail.com; cmmdhaka.vc3@gmail.com; cmmdhaka.vc4@gmail.com.]
  3. After framing of the Virtual Court for hearing the bail application of the accused petitioner, the office of the learned Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Court or the learned Chief Judicial Magistrate Court will publish an order notification. [Note: 4 (four) Virtual Court has been framed by the learned Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Court, Dhaka.]
  4. Every lawyer, who are willing to take a part on virtual hearing, shall provide an email address and mobile number.
  5. In order to ensure participation in a bail hearing, an advocate should send a set of scanned and soft copies of the (i) written bail application along with (ii) documentary papers and (iii) Wakalatnama to the email address of the concerned Court.
  6. In the Wakalatnama, the advocate must have mentioned the advocate’s membership number of his/her concerned Bar Association, his/her email ID address and also mobile number. 
  7. The size of the soft copy file of the bail application shall be within 10 megabyte (mb).
  8. After the bail application for virtual hearing is accepted, advocate of the applicant should send an email to the opposite party and Court within 24 hours before hearing.

Hearing Procedure

  1. Hearing will be started through video conference during Court hours.
  2. Court may use a daily cause list to conduct hearing and to fix the date of hearing. The time and date of hearing and the online platform to be used in this regard will be sent from the Court by SMS and email address to the concerned Advocate.
  3. A Video Conferencing Case Number/VC Case number will be mentioned on the accepted application. The case number will use all further necessary functions of the Court.
  4. An Advocate will participate for hearing on the fixed date in front of the video conferencing platform determined by the Court, such as Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, etc. Advocate of the Opposite party should be present at the time of virtual hearing.
  5. Advocate of the applicant should be present 15 minutes before the hearing is due to start. If any advocate wants to engage a senior Advocate or other advocate for better hearing, he may transfer the virtual hearing link to his appointed lawyer. This matter will have to be informed to the Court before the start of the hearing.
  6. If it is not possible to instantly pronounce the result of the hearing, then result will be sent by SMS and email to the Advocate of the applicant.
  7. If the bail is granted, the soft copy of the drafted and scanned bail bond and release order should be sent to the Court’s email address. Thereafter Court will provide the release order to the email address of the concerned Jail Super.
  8. If anyone is aggrieved by the Order of the learned Court, then he may go to the higher Court by taking a photo-certified copy of the Order.
  9. The concerned Judge and the Concerned Advocates shall be properly dressed in Court dress except the gown and maintain decorum in the virtual hearing.
  10. If, during the hearing, the video connectivity is lost, the hearing will continue upon reconnection. If it is not possible to conclude the hearing for any reason, then the Judge shall fix another date and time for virtual hearing.
  11. The concerned Advocate shall be punished by the laws of Digital Security Act, 2018 or The Penal Code, 1860 if he submits any forged documents, or gives any false statement, or gets involved with any other form of cheating.

Compiled and edited by Ariful Haque Rokon, Associate; Md. Aminul Haq, Associate; and Mohua Morshed, Associate