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Lawyers reject Supreme Courts’s hybrid hearing move

Supreme Court of India in New Delhi. File   | Photo Credit: Shanker Chakravarty

The Supreme Court's initiative to begin hybrid physical hearings from March 15 sailed into rough waters with lawyers rejecting the mechanism while alleging that it was announced without consulting them.

They have even decided to file a case in the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), a powerful lawyers' body, said the court has "unilaterally thrust" the standard operating procedure (SOP) for the hybrid hearings upon the lawyers.

The SCBA, in a press release, said it has "unanimously resolved and decided" to reject the SOP and file a writ petition in the apex court, challenging its very legality.

SCBA president, senior advocate Vikas Singh, who has long campaigned for a full return to physical hearings in the top court, said the SOP was prepared by the court without "taking into confidence the Bar" despite assurances from Chief Justice of India Sharad A. Bobde in a meeting on March 1.

Mr. Singh reminded that the Bar was an "equal stakeholder" in the justice delivery system.

On Saturday, the apex court notified the SOP for hybrid physical hearings and the safety protocol to be followed amid the pandemic.

Cases in the final hearing stage and regular matters listed on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays would be heard in the hybrid mode. Entry into the courtroom would be restricted to maintain physical distancing. The number of persons per courtroom would be averaged at 20. More than that, the cases would be invariably listed for virtual hearing. However, the court would also facilitate hybrid hearings in such cases.

Miscellaneous matters, like PILs, and fresh petitions which come up on Mondays and Fridays would continue to be heard virtually.

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Printable version | May 11, 2021 7:40:51 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/lawyers-reject-supreme-courtss-hybrid-hearing-move/article34004020.ece

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