The Chief Justice of India, Justice NV Ramana while attending the Felicitation function organized by Lady Advocates of the Supreme Court, in honour of his and other Judges of Supreme Court expressed the hope that after Dusshera, physical hearings can be conducted, he also stated that the judges do not have any problem with physical hearing.
The CJI further informed that the President of the Bar Association of the Supreme Court has told him that there is some problem with the Standard Operating Procedure and therefore, it will be liberal.
Furthermore, he stated that he does not want to take risks while fully opening the courts, but he hopes that after Dusshera they can conduct physical hearings.
Finally, he also clarified that the problem is for the lawyers and their clerks, while the Judges do not have any problem since they are in an elevated place and will be sitting behind glass.
ENCOURAGING LAWYERS TO ATTEND PHYSICAL HEARING
The Supreme Court asked the President of Senior Court Bar Association, Senior Advocate, Vikas Singh to encourage the advocates who are a member of the association to attend physical hearings.
OBSERVATIONS OF THE BENCH
A bench consisting of Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, Justice Nageswara Rao and Justice Surya Kant observing that the number of lawyers turning up for physical hearing was negligible, expressed their disappointment, since the lawyers had a hybrid option from 1st September 2021.
The Bench also stated that the Standard Operating Procedure can be decided once the lawyers start appearing for a physical hearing in the Court.
The Bench while making its observations about their suo moto order of April 27, 2021 regarding the extension of the limitation period for filing cases in the wake of the second wave of COVID held that they might recall this order.
In August 2020, the Apex Court had held that physical hearings would be resumed on an experimental basis in certain courtrooms, for final hearings but with the consent of the advocates. However, this did not turn out to be very successful since only a handful of advocates consented to it even though a thousand cases were published for hearing.
SUPREME COURT BAR ASSOCIATION
In March, the Supreme Court Bar Association had asserted that the virtual hearing was just a measure implemented during the COVID period so that Justice could be delivered and was accessible to everyone. However, an Open Court hearing is both a tradition and a requirement of the Constitution, and with this plea, it had urged the Chief Justice of India to reopen the Court for physical hearing since the pandemic was “very much in control”.