SC to have hybrid hearings soon, lawyers seek return of physical hearings
New Delhi, Feb 1 (IANS) The Bar Council of India (BCI) on Monday said Chief Justice S.A. Bobde has told the bar leaders that a hybrid system of hearing, which includes physical appearance, may begin soon amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
In a press statement, BCI Chairman Manan Kumar Mishra said: “The Chief Justice of India made it clear that the judges of Supreme Court themselves are willing to restart the open court hearings but there are medical and technical issues which the registry of Supreme Court of India is trying to sort out and solve. Therefore, it will be done gradually.”
The statement said after deliberations, it was also decided that there shall be hybrid system of hearing till the pandemic period is over.
Many lawyers have been seeking resumption of physical against the backdrop of declining Covid-19 cases.
A meeting was held on Monday which included the Chief Justice, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, various bar leaders including BCI Chairman, office bearers of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) and Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association, and former SCBA President and senior advocate Vikas Singh.
“The Secretary General (of the apex court) was asked by Justice Bobde to get the technical problems solved at the earliest so that courts could resume its functioning physically from the first week of March 2021,” the statement added.
Since the beginning of the lockdown last year, the top court has been hearing cases virtually.
Singh had written twice to the Chief Justice seeking resumption of physical hearings. He has also proposed that video-conferencing (during the hybrid hearings) could only be done by the lawyers who are present in Delhi and that should be done only through cable connections either in the lawyers’ chambers or the cubicles (on premises of Supreme Court).
The BCI has sought for an effective and expeditious method for mentioning and listing of urgent matters, on which the CJI “gave a positive assurance”.
“Most probably one or two judges will sit on all the working days for ‘mentioning matters’ only. A decision to this effect shall be taken soon by the Chief Justice of India in consultation with the other judges,” added the statement.
During the day, Singh led a group of lawyers who assembled in the apex court premises to protest against the continuation of virtual hearings and asked the top court to begin physical hearings.