Supreme Court, Bar leaders wants Physical Hearings; 99% of lawyer’s don’t

    Acquiescing to recurring demands of bar association leaders, the Supreme Court had envisaged to commence limited physical hearing of cases on a trial basis from this week, but the measures seems to have ebbed out as a miserably 0.87% of advocates conceded to appear in person to expostulate cases.

    Supreme Court Bar Association president Dushyant Dave and SC Advocates-on-Record Association president Shivaji Jadav had dynamically persuaded, either in course of virtual hearing of cases, or in their meeting with the committee of seven judges, beginning physical hearing in the Apex Court.

     Since March 25 through video-conferencing, the SC has been adjudicating cases.

    The court registry presented a list of 517 orderly cases and 170 miscellaneous petitions and solicited consent from counsel occupied by litigants for physical hearing. A registry source stated that only in six of the total 687 cases, lawyers from both sides have gone along with physical hearing,” a registry source said.

    Nevertheless medical experts were recommending a wait and watch policy in advance of initiating physical hearing given the abundance of daily Covid-19 infections in the country, the judges committee comprising Justices N V Ramana, Arun Mishra, R F Nariman, U U Lalit, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and L N Rao had propounded opening of three courtrooms for physical hearing of cases with only defendants were allowed.

    The source added that, they had prepared three courtrooms by installing glass partitions, exhaust fans, sanitation facilities and other equipment by motive of physical hearing within a week of the report given by the judges’ committee suggesting physical hearing on a trial basis for a minimal number of cases as a tentative project. They were also ready to make accessible three more courtrooms within a week if there was a call by more lawyers for physical hearing. But since only six cases got acceptance from lawyers of both sides, the present three courtrooms will be more than enough.

    On August 12, the judges committee, after picking brains of top medical experts engrossed  in the fight against coronavirus and communicating with Bar Council of India chairman Manan Kumar Mishra, Dave and Jadhav, had suggested a hybrid system that would involve opening of three courts with all mandatory safeguards for physical hearing of old cases, while recommencing to adjudicate fresh matters through video conferencing. But promptly, hundreds of advocates-on-record signed a memorandum opposing the start of physical hearing.

    For the present, Patna High Court approved a novel procedure to discover whether lawyers were ready to start physical hearing of cases. It took up the issue on the judicial side and issued notices to the advocate general, associations of advocates, bar and lawyers to seek their view. On August 12, all lawyers endorsed the advocate general’s view that given the pandemic situation in the state, proceedings should be conducted in the virtual mode. The HC will hear the matter again on September 2 for a fresh look at the pandemic and commencing physical hearing.