Supreme Court panel for physical hearings on a trial basis

Lawyers at the Supreme Court. File

Lawyers at the Supreme Court. File   | Photo Credit: The Hindu

A seven-judge committee of the Supreme Court led by Justice N.V. Ramana has “in-principle” recommended the beginning of physical court hearings in two or three courtrooms on a trial basis in a fortnight amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

A source in the Supreme Court aware of the committee’s deliberations said medical experts were, however, still against the idea of physical court hearings. They have been advised to wait as statistics on COVID-19 cases continue to ride high.

The source said that the court was nevertheless making preliminary preparations in the courtrooms. An aluminium frame was seen nailed on the wall in Justice Arun Mishra’s courtroom, possibly to install a glass partition between the judges and the lawyers.

The source said the proposal from the lawyers was to allow physical court hearings in regular matters or cases. “Even a few cases listed would see an inflow of at least 200 lawyers,” the source said, expressing his doubts over the move.

A meeting was held recently among the committee and senior advocate Dushyant Dave, the president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, senior advocate Manan Kumar Mishra, the chairman of the Bar Council of India and advocate Shivaji Jadhav, who is the president of the Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association.

Mr. Mishra had told The Hindu that the Bar leaders had conveyed the anguish of the lawyers, many of whom are in dire straits, financially and professionally. They had urged the court to open up the courtrooms for physical hearings in a limited manner. They said many lawyers were unable to cope with the virtual court system as cases were complex, required detailed arguments and involved voluminous documents.

Virtual court hearings of limited cases have been on for the past few months of the pandemic lockdown till date.

Besides Justice Ramana, the other judges on the committee are Justices Arun Mishra, Rohinton F. Nariman, U.U. Lalit, A.M. Khanwilkar, D.Y. Chandrachud and L. Nageswara Rao.

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Printable version | Sep 27, 2020 4:10:30 AM |

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