Supreme Court Registry has written to the President of Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association (SCAORA) informing about the decision made in a meeting held on August 11 by the 7-Judge Committee regarding the resumption of physical hearing of cases in the Court Rooms.
Here are the recommendations of the 7-judge committee:
- as a pilot scheme, three amongst the bigger Court Rooms maybe prepared for the physical hearing on an experimental basis while strictly adhering to the social distancing and other norms as per medical advice.
- a limited number of cases may be listed for physical hearing in these Court Rooms after 10 days subject to the decision of the Competent Authority and upon prior consent of all parties in writing.
- the numbers of the cases listed may be gradually increased if the ground situation so warrants and permits.
- all the matters including miscellaneous matters listed on Mondays and Fridays shall continue to be heard through Video Conferencing as per the existing Standard Operating Procedure till further orders.
- considering the vulnerability, in medical terms, of some stake-holders and their family members to the COVID-19 infection, particularly in the absence of a preventive vaccine or medicine/ procedures to mitigate cure or overcome the disease resulting from such infection, it has been recommended that requests from stake-holders for exemption from participation in any such limited physical hearing inside the Court Rooms may be considered favorably.
- steps be taken to improve and strengthen e-filing and such other components of hearing through Video Conferencing.
The letter clarified that the recommendations mentioned relate only to the requests and suggestions received in respect of the functioning of the Supreme Court and such recommendations shall not apply in respect of any other Court, Tribunal, or adjudicatory authority in India.
The Supreme Court, since March 25, has been holding hearings through video conferencing due to a nationwide lockdown and even after the restrictions were relaxed, it has decided to continue with the practice. Justices NV Ramana, Arun Mishra, Rohington Nariman, U U Lalit, A M Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and L N Rao are part of the committee set up by the CJI to look into the issue of resumption of physical hearings in the Supreme Court again.