SCBA objects to conditions on resuming physical hearing

SCBA objects to conditions on resuming physical hearing 

The top court, after a gap of 17 months, has decided to begin physical hearings of cases from September 1 in limited form

Supreme Court of India. Credit: Reuters Photo

Supreme Court Bar Association on Monday objected to several conditions put for resuming limited physical hearings in the top court, saying those would be "non-starter" dissuading several lawyers to exercise this option.

The top court, after a gap of 17 months, has decided to begin physical hearings of cases from September 1 in limited form, while continuing to conduct proceedings through virtual mode. It has issued a detailed Standard Operating Procedure for the purpose.

In a letter to Chief Justice of India N V Ramana, SCBA President Vikas Singh, "The SOP prohibits entry of lawyers to the high security area without special passes which will, in turn, dissuade our members from applying for physical hearing."

He wrote the SOP is a non-starter as members of SCBA would not like to take the option for physical hearings with so many conditions attached to it.

He said the restrictions should be in place only with regard to going inside courtrooms and not with regard to entering the high-security area and every lawyer with a proximity card should be allowed to access high-security area.

The SCBA also raised objection to limiting the number of people to 20 in every courtroom saying it is also "arbitrary as the size of courtrooms differs substantially".

"The number of persons permitted to enter the courtroom should be based on the size of a courtroom and the number of twenty can be justified only in the smallest courtrooms. Moreover, the discretion given to a Judge to adjourn the matter last minute if the number in a particular matter increases more to than twenty people is also unjustified as this will disrupt a lot of hearings in the court," the letter stated.

It also pointed out that as number of Covid-19 cases has fallen considerably in Delhi-NCR and positivity rate in the national capital is 0.4 per cent along with that large section of population has become immune to the disease - either through vaccination or antibodies, the normal functioning of the court should be resumed at the earliest.

"The Supreme Court being the apex court of the country should be a guiding star for resumption of normal works in the courts in the country as High Courts and lower courts look upon us for such guidance," it said, adding the city has opened up completely and eased restrictions amid fall in its Covid-19 caseloads.

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