The Supreme Court on Thursday reopened for physical hearings for the first time since March 2020. The apex court had recently issued new SoPs for hybrid hearings as per which all cases on Wednesdays and Thursdays to be heard only in physical presence of the counsels/parties in courtrooms.
The Supreme Court Bar Association, a registered body of lawyers practising in the Apex Court, had urged the Chief Justice to revert to the physical mode of hearing since the Covid-19 surge has receded.
The modified SOP gives an option to the lawyers to opt for either physical or virtual mode on Tuesdays.
In the modified rules, therefore, there would be a 15-minute break at the discretion of the Bench during physical hearings. The courtrooms had to be vacated during this interval for being sanitised.
Lawyers would be called in a case one after the other. They can wait at the Bar lounges in the building for their cases to be called. This was to avoid crowds in the corridors, they were told.
Senior lawyers object
But just days earlier senior lawyers like Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, senior advocate Kapil Sibal among others urged Chief Justice of India N V Ramana not to make the physical hearings mandatory.
Senior lawyer Kapil Sibal has requested the court to keep the option of hybrid hearings open on all days, instead of having an inflexible rule as some of the hearings may be lengthy and may prove difficult to manage in physical hearings while following COVID-19 protocols.
He also Sibal pleaded that further thought be given to physical hearings and any positive action on it should be deferred till after Deepavali, when the court goes on vacation in the first week of November.
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