The Prosecutor General's Office, on Tuesday, stated that all preliminary hearing at lower courts and magistrate courts would be held via video conference from November 1 onwards.
The decision to allow PG Office lawyers to join pre-trial proceedings through virtual means was finalised following a meeting between Prosecutor General Hussain Shameem and recently appointed Chief Judicial Administrator (CJA) Aishath Rizna.
According to the PG Office, the new arrangement would expedite cases and reduce travel expenditure. The PG Office revealed that a total of MVR 3.2 was spent on travel related expenses in 2019.
During the meeting, PG Shameem and CJA Rizna also discussed arrangements to facilitate the submission of criminal cases through electronic means starting from 2021.
On June 29, the parliament passed an amendment to the Criminal Procedure Code, authorising court hearings to be held via video conferences under special circumstances.
According to the amendment, only specific types of hearings will be held over video conference, including remand and preliminary hearings.
Several unprecedented video-based hearings were held by both appellate and lower courts during the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak in the country, including the Supreme Court's first live virtual hearing and the first divorce hearing held by the Family Court.