The Supreme Court has issued fresh standard operating procedures to accord final hearing of cases in physical mode from September 1, and will employ a hybrid option from Tuesday to Thursday amid strict observance of Covid appropriate norms. The decision may be taken by the concerned bench, considering the number of parties in a matter as well as the limited capacity of the court rooms.
The top court has been hearing cases through video-conferencing since March last year due to the pandemic and several bar bodies and lawyers have been demanding that physical hearings should resume immediately. The SOP, issued by the Secretary General on August 28, made it clear that the courts would keep hearing miscellaneous cases through virtual mode on Mondays and Fridays. The SOP has been issued on the directions of Chief Justice N V Ramana who took note of the recommendations of the Judges’ Committee set up earlier to consider representations and requests of bar bodies that the hearing through physical mode be started keeping in mind the financial and technical difficulties being faced by many lawyers. Advocate-on-record (AoR) are required to register themselves on the top court’s portal and submit their preferences for appearing before the concerned court either through physical mode or through video/teleconferencing mode within 24 hours/ 1.00 p.m. next day after the publication of the weekly list of final hearing/ regular matters. The bench, hearing cases through physical mode, may decide to take a break during the hearings for a period of about 15 minutes, so that the courtroom may be sanitized, it said.
If the number of advocates for parties is more than 20, the average working capacity of the courtrooms as per Covid norms, the bench “at any given time” resort to the virtual mode of hearing, the SOP said.