COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

Standard Operating Procedure for physical hearing (with hybrid option)


In continuation of directions already notified regarding the functioning of the Supreme Court of India, in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, more particularly through Circulars dated 14.03.2020, 23.03.2020, 30.08.2020 & 05.03.2021, and on consideration of the requests received from the Bar Associations, and on recommendations of the Hon’ble Judges Committee in that regard, the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India has been pleased to direct as follows :

  1. With a view to gradually facilitate resumption of physical hearing, the final hearing/regular matters listed on non-miscellaneous days may be heard in the physical mode (with hybrid option), as may be decided by the Hon’ble Bench, considering the number of parties in a matter as well as the limited capacity of the Court rooms; further, any other matter may be heard in physical mode on such days, if Hon’ble Bench directs likewise. All other matters, including those listed on miscellaneous days shall continue to be heard through video/tele- conferencing mode;
  2. At the discretion of the Hon’ble Bench, there may be break(s) during the hearings in Courtroom in physical mode, for a period of about 15 minutes, so that Courtroom may be sanitized, during which it is necessary that the entire Courtroom be vacated;
  3. Unless otherwise directed by the Hon’ble Bench, final hearing/regular matters where the number of Advocates for the parties are more than the average working capacity of the Court rooms, as per Covid-19 norms, i.e. 20 (approx.), per Courtroom at any given time, shall invariably be listed for hearing through video/tele-conferencing mode; however, in case the Hon’ble Bench directs hearing of such matters to be held through the physical mode, the appearance of the parties, whether by physical presence or through video/tele-conferencing, will be facilitated as per the directions of the Hon’ble Bench;
  1. In a matter listed for physical hearing (with hybrid option), one AOR [or his nominee], one Arguing Counsel and one Junior Counsel per party will be allowed entry; one registered Clerk per party, as may be chosen by the AOR, shall be allowed entry to carry paper- books/journals etc. of the Counsels upto the Court-rooms;
  2. In any such matter as may be listed for physical hearing (with hybrid option), all the Counsels appearing for one party can appear either through physical mode or through video/tele-conferencing; Advocate(s)-on-Record are required to register themselves on the SCI portal, and submit their preferences for appearing before the Hon’ble Court either through physical mode or through video/tele- conferencing mode within 24 hours/1:00 PM next day, as the case may be, after the publication of the Weekly List of Final Hearing/Regular matters;
  3. Once hearing through physical mode is opted by the AOR/petitioner- in-person, hearing through video/tele-conferencing mode to the party concerned will not be facilitated;
  4. The Entry of the counsels/parties into the HSZ to appear for physical hearing will be through daily “Special hearing passes” which will be issued by the Registry, on the basis of authorization by the concerned Advocate-on-Record on the portal, as indicated in S.No.5 above; (User guide is published separately)
  5. Multiple sets of one chair and table are being placed inside the Court Rooms, in the areas demarcated for Ld. Advocates and it shall be incumbent upon the users to maintain minimum prescribed physical distancing norms between each set, which should not be removed from their positions;
  6. Special Hearing Pass holders, upon completion of necessary formalities, online or otherwise as may be notified in due time, shall enter the High Security Zone through the designated Gate, after subjecting themselves to check by thermal and such other scanning devices as may be installed for detecting body temperature, infection status, etc.
  1. On entering the HSZ, such pass holders may proceed to the designated waiting areas or Bar Lounges/Libraries and wait for their turn to enter respective Court Rooms where physical hearing (with hybrid option) of their respective case(s) may be scheduled, and they would proceed only through the movement corridors created and demarcated for the purpose;
  2. At the designated waiting area(s), volunteers may also guide the Advocates-on-Record/Counsels further, as and when their turn comes for entering the designated Court Room for hearing;
  3. Subject to the capacity of any Courtroom, the entry of parties in a matter will be permitted not earlier than ten minutes prior to start of hearing of that matter;
  4. The entry into and exit from each Court Room shall be by separate channels/doors;
  5. It may be noted that wearing of mask, frequent use of hand sanitizer and maintaining physical distancing norms are mandatory for all entrants into the Supreme Court premises, including into the Court- rooms;
  6. On completion of hearing of their respective case(s), the Ld. Advocates/ Registered Clerks, etc. shall move out of the High Security Zone through the movement corridor(s) and exit from the designated gates;
  7. Ld. Advocates/ Counsels having more than one case for hearing in physical mode shall be issued separate Special Hearing Pass for each case and after hearing of one case is complete, they may wait in the designated staging/waiting area(s) for the purpose for appearing for the next case;
  8. It is reiterated that in order to facilitate video/tele-conferencing for the Ld. Advocates/ Counsels, a dedicated VC Facilitation Centre is located in Block ‘B/C’, Ground Floor, Additional Building Complex, Supreme Court of India, which can be accessed through Gate No.1 of that Complex;

18. It is further reiterated that to facilitate appearance of Ld. Advocates/ Litigants through video-conferencing mode, the Supreme Court Video Conferencing Facilitation Rooms (SCI VC ROOM) in the seven District Courts Complexes of Delhi, as notified vide Circular dated 13.06.2020 on Supreme Court website i.e. https://www.sci.gov.in, under the head Notices and Circular, continue to function.

As directed, the physical hearings (with hybrid option) are to commence w.e.f. 1st September, 2021.

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

Virtual Hearing

Jammu and Kashmir High Court extend its Order dated 5-04-2021 with regard to the virtual mode of hearing due to the sudden surge of COVID-19 Cases in the Country in general and UTs of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh in particular.

Link to the NOTIFICATION.


Jammu and Kashmir High Court

[Notification dt. 16-04-2021]

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

In view of the recent surge in the COVID-19 cases, NCDRC has taken the following decisions till further orders:

  • Physical Hearing and Hybrid Hearing of cases to remain suspended.
  • Cases listed for physical and hybrid hearings before NCDRC Benches from 12th April onwards, shall be taken up through video conferencing only.
  • Registry shall continue listing cases in terms of the Notice issues on 02 June, 2020, 9th June, 2020 and 26th June, 2020.
  • Filing/Dak shall be accepted and date stamped at entry gate of the Commission but same shall be processed after 4 days of filing.
  • public hearing will remain suspended till further orders.
  • some of the members of the Commission shall be allowed to work from home on rotational basis.

Nationa Commission Disputes Redressal Commission

[Notice dt. 10-04-2021]

Hot Off The PressNews

Delhi High Court issues guidelines/directions to be followed upon resumption of Physical Court from 15-03-2021.

Following guidelines/directions need to be followed with effect from 15-03-2021:­

(a) All the gates including the entry and exit gates of underground car parking shall be opened and operated as it was being done pre-pandemic period;

(b) Declaration form as required till now from the Lawyers and Litigants dispensed with;

(c) Facilitation Counter/Pass Counter will function as it was pre-pandemic period;

(d) Entry of Litigants will be regulated, as it was pre-pandemic period; and

(e) All the visitors including Lawyers shall maintain social distancing as per norms/protocol issued by the Government of India/GNCTD and/or this Court.


Delhi High Court

[Public Notice dt. 02-03-2021]

Hot Off The PressNews

It has been notified vide an Order dated 23-02-2021 that all NCLT Benches shall start regular Physical hearing w.e.f 01-03-2021, in case any counsel/ representative of party expresses difficulty in physical hearing, he/ she may be permitted for virtual hearing.

However, there are a few Benches that shall remain attending the matters through video conference. The list can be seen by clicking on the below link:

List


National Company Law Tribunal

[Order dt. 23-02-2021]

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

Bombay High Court

Advocates and the parties appearing in-person that, considering the precautionary measures due to outbreak of COVID-19, Chief Justice nominated Judges to hear the matters physically at the Principal Seat at Bombay, on an experimental basis with effect from 1st December 2020 to 10th January 2020 (Excluding Vacation).

Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the resumption of physical hearing at the Principal Seat, High Court of Bombay has also been stated in the following notice below.

Read the detailed notice to know the Judges nominated, here: NOTICE


Bombay High Court

[Notice dt. 27-11-2020]

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

The Supreme Court Registry has released a detailed User Guide for limited physical hearings.  The ‘How to’ User guide answers the ‘How tos’ on

  1. e-Nomination of Counsel/Clerk for Physical hearing
  2. e-Application for Special Hearing Entry Pass
  3. e- Submission of Self-declaration Form

Some Key Points from the User Guide 

For e-Nomination of Counsel/Clerk for Physical hearing

  • AOR can nominate

1. Senior Counsel
2. Advocate-on-record (Other than the user)
3. Appearing counsel (Any other advocate otherwise eligible)
4. Party to the case represented by concerned AOR
5. Registered Clerk of the concerned AOR or nominee.

Total number of AORs appearing in the selected case will be displayed on the top of screen. The working capacity of the Court Room as per standard social distancing norms would also be on display.

  • How will the Limit be calculated: Limit per AOR is Calculated as per total number of AOR in a given case qua the working capacity of given Court Room.  If Limit per AOR is 0 in that case AOR can replace himself/herself with Senior Counsel or Appearing Counsel or Another AOR, as may be the case. If Limit per AOR is 2 in such case besides such AOR he or she can permit any two or combination of Senior Counsel or Appearing Counsel or Another AORs.
  • Entry of registered clerks is permitted to assist AOR or counsel for supplying physical material, as may be required, to argue a case. However, registered clerks
    are not permitted to enter inside the Court Room. Therefore, registered clerks are not counted as attendee inside the Court Room however his entry is permitted up
    to the Court Room. Therefore, Registered Clerk is not counted in the Limit of persons to be nominated by AOR in a given case.
  • If in a given case only AOR is permitted and such AOR replaces and nominates counsel in his place, in such event AOR will not be permitted inside the Court Room for that item number listed before the Court. In the Figure 6 name of AOR shall be at serial No. 1 by default. When AOR desires to replace himself/ herself, he or she can delete his/her entry and make fresh entry with appropriate replacement.
  • Mobile Number is mandatory field for nominating any person for physical hearing. On the basis of mobile number entry pass mechanism is designed, therefore, ensure that correct mobile number is entered, and it is verified before finally submitting nomination to the Registry.
  • On the day a given case is listed before the Court, nominated entries can be edited or changed till 09.00 am.

For e-Application for Special Hearing Entry Pass

  • AOR or Appearing Counsel or Arguing Counsel or Registered Clerk shall click on Special hearing entry pass link available on the official website Supreme Court of India.
  • Person nominated for special hearing and physical appearance before the Supreme Court of India shall enter his mobile number. If his number is registered by concerned AOR he shall receive OTP. If OTP is not received the concerned may contact respective AOR.
  • Photo ID uploaded while generating entry pass will be physically verified while permitting entry Photo ID is required for identification of the nominated person as Advocate or registered Clerk, as may be the case.
  • If on a particular day, appearance is to be marked in more than one case, multiple passes are required to be generated for that day. For each item number listed before the Court, a separate pass is required. Accordingly, one has to check schedule for the day and generate all passes listed for that day before the various Courts.
  • Before physically entering/ visiting the Supreme Court premises, the entrants have to mandatorily sign self-declaration form about fitness and good health ruling out possibility of self-infection

For e- Submission of Self-declaration Form

Any person or Advocate seeking to enter / visit the premises of the Supreme Court by generating Special Hearing Entry Pass, is mandatorily required to Sign in Selfdeclaration form. Self-declaration is to be signed in by entering OTP sent on registered mobile number only on the day of visit.

To download the user manual, click here.


Also read

SOP for limited physical hearings amidst COVIS-19 pandemic

Hot Off The PressNews

Bombay High Court exempts Advocates from wearing gowns while appearing before the Courts in the course of physical hearing till further orders.  However, Advocates should wear a black coat and white band.

Read the notice here: NOTICE


Bombay High Court

[Notice dt. 31-08-2020]

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

After a 7-judge Committee of Justices NV Ramana, Arun Mishra, Rohington Nariman, U U Lalit, A M Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and L N Rao recommended re-commencing the physical hearings in some Courts, Chief Justice of India Justice SA Bobde has given the following directions for limited physical hearings amidst COVIS-19 pandemic:

1. On an experimental basis, and as a pilot scheme, physical hearing of matters may initially commence in three Court-rooms; eventually, number of matters or the number of Court-rooms may be increased or reduced, as the situation may warrant or permit;

2. Despite consent by the Advocates/Parties-in-Person, only such number of Counsels/parties may be permitted to appear during physical hearing inside Courtrooms, so that the total number does not exceed the working capacity of the Court(s) as determined considering the physical distancing norms;

3. If in a matter the number of parties is more, then one AOR and one Arguing Counsel per party will be allowed entry; one registered Clerk per party, as may be chosen by the AOR, shall be allowed entry to carry paper-books/journals etc. of the Counsels upto the Court-rooms;

4. Entry into the High Security Zone through proximity cards/long term passes shall be kept suspended, till further orders; entry of counsels/parties or such other stakeholders to appear for such limited physical hearing will be through daily “Special hearing passes” which will be issued by the Registry, on the basis of authorization by the concerned Advocate on Record.

5. Multiple sets of one chair and table are being placed inside the Court Rooms, in the areas demarcated for Advocates/Parties-in-Person, and it shall be incumbent upon the users to maintain minimum prescribed physical distancing norms between each set, which should not be removed from their positions;

6. Advocates/Parties-in-Person/Clerks or other stakeholders, who have been issued Special Hearing Passes, upon completion of necessary formalities, online or otherwise as may be notified in due time, shall enter the High Security Zone through the designated Gate, after subjecting themselves to the thermal and such other scanning devices as may be installed for detecting body temperature, infection status, etc.

7. On entering the High Security Zone, Advocates/Parties-in-Person would proceed to the staging areas/vacant Court-rooms as may be designated, and wait for their turn to enter respective Court Rooms where physical hearing of their respective case(s) may be scheduled, and they would proceed only through the movement corridors created and demarcated for the purpose;

8. At the staging/waiting area(s), concerned volunteers may also guide the Advocates/Parties-in-Person further, as and when their turn comes for entering the designated Court Room for hearing;

9. The entry into and exit from each Court Room shall be by separate doors; entrants into the Court Rooms are advised to use the sanitization devices for sanitizing their hands and also the papers and other items/articles, that they may seek to carry into the Court Rooms with them;

10. It may be noted that wearing of mask, frequent use of hand sanitizer and maintaining physical distancing norms is mandatory for all entrants into the Supreme Court premises, including the Court-rooms;

11. On completion of hearing of their respective case, the Advocates/Parties-in-Person/Clerks, etc. shall move out of the High Security Zone through the movement corridor and exit from the designated gates;

12. Advocates/Parties-in-Person having more than one case for physical hearing in the Court Rooms shall be issued separate Special Hearing Pass for each case and after hearing of one case is complete, they may wait in the designated staging/waiting area(s) for the purpose for appearing for the next hearing(s);

13. In order to facilitate video/tele-conferencing for the Advocates/Parties-in-Person, a dedicated VC Facilitation Centre is located in Block ‘C’, Ground Floor, Additional Building Complex, Supreme Court of India, which can be accessed through Gate No.1 of that Complex.


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COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

Physical Court Hearing

Administrative Committee of the Madras High Court has decided to open physical court hearing partially with 6 Division Benches at Principal Seat at Madras and 2 Division Benches at Madurai, with a combination of the physical court hearing and virtual court hearing with effect from 07-09-2020.

Overcrowding of the Courts

Physical Court Hearing of three Division Benches in Principal Seat at Madras will be pre-lunch session and Three Division Benches in the post-lunch session in order to avoid overcrowding in Courts.

Virtual Court Hearings will be alternatively conducted for the rest of the day.

Benches would be functioning for half a day through the physical court hearing and for the next half a day through a virtual court hearing, so as to facilitate the lawyers of both categories, who opt for physical court or virtual court hearings.

Trial Basis

The above-stated categories will be adopted on a trial basis in order to assess the feasibility of the running of physical court hearings, which can be suitably varied after observing the functioning of the Courts in this manner for two weeks.

Other respective Benches will continue to function through virtual court hearing as before, subject to any modification to be announced upon a decision to be taken by the High Court in the future.

Read the notification here: NOTIFICATION


Madras High Court

[Notification dt. 29-08-2020]

Hot Off The PressNews

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.


ALSO READ

COVID-19| No in-person hearings in SC till further notice; Extremely urgent matters to be heard via video conference

COVID-19| Here’s the list of directions issued by CJI Bobde in the light of Coronavirus lockdown

COVID-19| SC extends limitation period for filing petitions/applications/suits/appeals, etc

COVID-19| SC extends limitation prescribed under the A&C, 1996 and the NI Act,1881

COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

A committee of seven Supreme Court judges is learnt to have recommended holding physical hearings in at least two or three of the 15 benches in the Supreme court as early as next week with some additional safety measures. 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.

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. In the last week of July, the 7- judge panel headed by senior most judge Justice N V Ramana had apprised the bar leaders of its decision to not open the apex court for physical hearings “for the time being” and had assured to meet them again after two weeks to reconsider the issue.

(Source: PTI)


ALSO READ

COVID-19| No in-person hearings in SC till further notice; Extremely urgent matters to be heard via video conference

COVID-19| Here’s the list of directions issued by CJI Bobde in the light of Coronavirus lockdown

COVID-19| SC extends limitation period for filing petitions/applications/suits/appeals, etc

COVID-19| SC extends limitation prescribed under the A&C, 1996 and the NI Act,1881