Wed, 14 Apr 2021

New Delhi [India], March 2 (ANI): Once again, the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) has written a letter to the Chief Justice of India (CJI) SA Bobde seeking immediate resumption of physical hearing in the Supreme Court.

"The right of the Supreme Court Registry to mute and unmute lawyers at will is completely contrary to the concept of an open hearing," the SCBA, said in its letter, addressed to the CJI and pleaded his intervention to resume physical hearings at the Supreme Court as soon as possible.

There are instances galore where lawyers are not unmuted when their matters are called out or where a matter is adjourned without it being called out and without unmuting the lawyers, the SCBA letter said.

The quality of voice and video transmission has not been upto the mark resulting in a lack of adequate communication between the counsel and the Judges, the SCBA letter said.

There has been no mentioning in the SC because of the technical glitches in virtual hearing since the pandemic has hit, which has never been barred in the history of this Court. In fact, there has been a practice in this Court for mentioning in the Chief Court which has been completely denied to the Bar, the SCBA letter to the CJI said.

In batch matter hearings, invariably all counsel are not unmuted and hence many-a-times the lawyers are unable to make submissions, the letter of the SCBA said.

The pandemic in the country has been very much in control in the last 6-8 weeks as the positivity rate in the city has hovered around 0.3% during this time, the letter of the SCBA stated.

The position in Delhi as on February 24, is that as far as Covid bed-occupancy is concerned is that in hospitals, out of 5,751 Covid beds only 437 are occupied, the SCBA letter addressed to the CJI said.

In the dedicated Covid Care Centre, out of 7392 beds, only 1 bed occupied and in the dedicated Covid Health Centre, of the 307 beds, all beds are unoccupied. The total active Covid cases in the whole of Delhi as of today is around 1400 persons, the SCBA said and corroborated the fact that the SC should start its physical hearings immediately.

Even the Supreme Court on the judicial side has made observations in certain cases that the pandemic is on the decline and has greatly diminished while passing orders in relation to holding of examinations and refusing to extend bail for persons who were granted bail earlier due to the pandemic, the letter of the SCBA said.

Further, as per the latest notification issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, even marriage functions upto 200 persons in enclosed spaces has been permitted.

The SCBA went on to say in its letter that in a wedding, the attendees take off their masks as there are food and beverages being served, making the said relaxation even more significant.

On the other hand, in the Courts, the lawyers and other staff members would definitely wear their masks at all times.

In these circumstances there is no justification to not open the Supreme Court for a physical hearing completely, the SCBA said in its letter.

As far as safety is concerned, it can be ensured that the lawyers continue to wear their masks and maintain as much practicably possible social distance so that no one will compromise the safety of anybody.

The SCBA letter further said that adequate thermal checks can be made at the entry point for lawyers and litigants entering the Supreme Court. Hand sanitisers can be placed outside each Courtroom. These steps are enough for starting full physical hearing in Supreme Court which is the only way this institution is supposed to function.

The younger members of my Bar are suffering greatly due to the current virtual system coupled with truncated listings, hence now, in view of the fact that we have practically overcome the pandemic, least in Delhi, there is no justification to continue with the same system and full physical court hearing ought to resume at the earliest in the larger interest of the Bar, the SCBA said in its letter. (ANI)

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