SC prepares for regular physical hearing

KT NEWS SERVICE. Dated: 6/5/2020 1:01:27 AM

NEW DELHI, Jun 4: The Supreme Court has veered around to revert back to the regular physical hearing instead of the virtual hearing through video-conferencing introduced in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, but its condition is that all concerned lawyers and parties in person give their joint consent.
In the wake of the Bar Council of India and the association of the advocates-on-record protesting over the virtual hearing, its registry has mounted a notice on June 2 to call for such a consent at ' to allow physical hearing in the court rooms.
The notice says: "In view of the request received from various quarters and in order to explore the feasibility of physical appearance of the advocates in the court, while adhering to social distancing norms, it is hereby notified to all the advocates and party-in-person to give their joint consent with regard to willingness for physical appearing and arguing in the court.
"Only on receipt of consent of all the parties to the effect the matter will be considered for listing before the Hon'ble Court, subject to availability of the Bench and also subject to the order of the competent authority and social distancing norms," the notice added.
The lawyers, both junior and senior, were upset that the judges gave the rulings on reading the petitions and hardly gave an opportunity to them to convince with arguments, an art in which they specialise but which cannot be played in the video-conferencing mode.
The judges were not averse to the regular court hearings as they have started sitting in the courts for the past couple of days while the lawyers have to argue through video-conferencing from their offices. A senior advocate who was among those supporting the virtual court admits the basic lacuna he found in the lawyers not able to cite the citations and give clarifications to answer the judges' queries that are easy in the physical hearing.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court judges' committee of Justices M V Ramana, Arun Mishra and U U Lalit has convened a review meeting on Friday at 1 PM at the Judges Guest House on the Prithviraj Road here, inviting representatives of the lawyers' organisations including the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA). The meeting shows the urgency felt by the judges as well to revert back to the regular hearings in the court rooms.
In an urgent letter to all SCBA members, its President Dushyant Dave on Thursday sought their views on seven points to enable him to present the association's collective view before the judges' committee, noting that the creation of the virtual courts has created an existential question for the lawyers and administration of justice cannot remain virtually closed for an indefinite period.
The questions he posed to the members include whether the members want regular physical hearings to restart and how fast as also whether both admission and regular matters be heard in such hearings or only the admission matters.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court registry has also notified dedicated helplines for the lawyers and others facing difficulties in coping with the virtual courts, listing different phone numbers for different issues and problems, stressing that they will be available only during working hours on working days only.
For filing/re-filing and curing of defects, the helpline numbers are 23111482 & 23112265 and Mr BLN Acharya 9810594145. For e-filing, there are two mobile numbers of Mr Sunny 8802747733 and Mr Rahul 9716266054 while listing can be requested on 23382367 and 23112369 and mentioning on 23111428 or Mr J S Rawat at 9873015981.
For video conferencing in virtual courts, the dedicated number is 1881 but also available are numbers of Mr Avadhesh Kumar at 9312570277 and Mr Tejinder Singh 9811942489.



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