The Supreme Court has issued standard operating procedure (SOP) for proposed physical hearing of the cases which will commence on an experimental basis on the request of various lawyers’ bodies.
The apex court has been holding hearings through video conferencing since March 25 due to the COVID-19-induced nationwide lockdown and even after the restrictions were relaxed; it has decided to continue with the practice.
A seven-judge committee headed by Justice NV Ramana has earlier this month after consideration of requests made by various Bar Associations has recommended to the Chief Justice of India SA Bobde, to resume physical hearing of the cases on an experimental basis while adhering to additional safety norms.
However, no date has been mentioned in the SOPs, as from when the physical hearing of cases in limited manner will commence.
The SOP issued by secretary general Sanjeev S Kalgaonkar of the top court said, “On an experimental basis, and as a pilot scheme, physical hearing of matters may initially commence in three Court-rooms; eventually, number of matters or the number of Court-rooms may be increased or reduced, as the situation may warrant or permit.”
It said that only such number of lawyers or parties may be permitted to appear during physical hearing inside Courtrooms, so that the total number does not exceed the working capacity of the Court(s) as determined considering the physical distancing norms.
If in a matter the number of parties is more, then one Advocate on Record AOR and one arguing counsel per party will be allowed entry; one registered Clerk per party, as may be chosen by the AOR, shall be allowed entry to carry paper-books/journals etc. of the Counsels upto the Court-rooms, it said.