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SCBA writes to SC against conditions attached on resuming physical hearing
New Delhi, August 30, 2021 (ANI): The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) on Monday has written to the Chief Justice of India (CJI) NV Ramana raising objections to the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) issued by the top court for physical hearings.
SCBA President Vikas Singh has called the SOP "a non-starter" as the Bar members would not like to take the options for a physical hearing with so many conditions attached. As the Supreme Court will be reopened for physical hearing after almost a year and a half, the SCBA in a letter to the CJI said, "The SOP prohibits the entry of lawyers to the high-security area without special passes which will, in turn, dissuade our members from applying for physical hearing."
It asked that 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 areas.
The SCBA also raised objection to limit the number of people to twenty 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.
Saying that the 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 a large section of the population has become immune to the disease - either through vaccination or antibody, the SCBA urged that normal functioning of the could be resumed at the earlier.
As the Supreme Court completely switched to a virtual mode of hearing through video-conferencing after the COVID-19 pandemic struck in the year 2020, it has now decided to resume physical hearing in a limited way from September 1 with lawyers continuing to have the option joining through the virtual model.
The Secretary-General of the Court while issuing the SOP, has said that initially the physical hearing will be allowed only on non-miscellaneous days when comparatively fewer cases are listed for hearing. (ANI)