The Executive Committees of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), as well as the Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association (SCAORA), have urged the Supreme to resume physical hearings in the supreme court using a phased method.
The desire has arisen following a joint resolution between the two organizations that was moved on July 20, 2020, for the resumption. The associations have urged the Chief Justice of India SA Bobde and other Judges in the Supreme Court to review the appeal for the resumption of physical hearings in the interest of the larger public.
CJI Bobde, in a hearing on July 22, 2020, said that a seven-member committee of the Supreme Court will decide the future method of hearing in the Supreme Court in a meeting to be held in the coming days.
The Court, given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, has been conducting proceedings using video conferencing platforms.
The consortium, have requested, in their resolution addressed to the CJI, to examine the feasibility of resumption of physical hearings in an incremental manner, proposing that, to begin with, the hearings can be held using a hybrid method, with both the modes, physical as well as video conferencing.
The resolution states that the resumption of court for all classes of matters is important at this juncture and that the lawyers must present their arguments inside the Court halls.
The joint resolution addresses the fact that many matters may be capacious with a large number of advocates. Hence, it is arduous to hold such matters using video conferencing. Therefore, it is suggested that physical hearings be held for fresh admissions, after notice matters, and also part-heard cases. It is also suggested in the resolution that video conferencing can be used for chamber matters and registrar court matters.
The SCBA and SACAORA have proposed that allowance in the Court premises can be restricted. Moreover, it is proposed that Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) be laid down for restricting entry following consultation is held with a committee of doctors.
“Entry to the Court can be restricted only to lawyers of the matters listed, at the entry point of the high-security zone itself. Litigants a.nd clerks may not be allowed to the high-security zone but for exceptional reasons/ occasions.”
The resolution also states wearing masks, maintenance of proper hygiene, and observing other precautionary measures must be made necessary in order to allow entry.
The SCBA and SCAORA have also furthermore urged the Chief Justice of India to convoke an assembly consisting of Presidents of both the associations and other office-bearers of these bodies to address the logistics required for the resumption of physical hearings.
A meeting between the bodies and the committee of the Court is proposed in order to address issues affecting the Court's functioning and the Registry, which is inclusive of the up-gradation of virtual hearings to a better platform.
The joint resolution has been signed under the hand of Acting Secretary of SCBA, Advocate Rohit Pandey, and the Secretary of SCAORA, Advocate Joseph Aristotle.