SC issues rules on physical hearings

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Published on Aug 31, 2020 11:28 PM IST
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ByHT Correspondent

New Delhi

The Supreme Court on Monday notified a standard operating procedure (SOP) to govern physical court hearings, which are expected to commence in the top court soon. As a pilot scheme, physical hearings of matters will initially commence only in three courtrooms, the SOP said.

Wearing of masks, frequent use of hand sanitizers, and maintaining physical distancing norms will be mandatory for all entrants into the Supreme Court premises. The court will take a call on how many lawyers and litigants will be permitted inside the courtroom depending on its capacity and physical distancing norms.

If there are multiple parties in a case, then only one advocate-on-record (filing counsel) and one arguing counsel per party will be allowed entry. Besides, one registered clerk per party will also be allowed to carry paperbooks, journals, etc, of lawyers into courtrooms.

Entry into the high-security zone of the Supreme Court will be through daily “special hearing passes” that will be issued by the registry. Proximity cards, which are normally used by lawyers to gain access to the high-security zone, will continue to remain suspended.

Physical hearings of cases at the Supreme Court were suspended on March 23 after the Covid-19 outbreak. The apex court has been hearing cases through video-conferencing since then. The top court issued a circular on March 23 suspending the entry of lawyers and litigants to the court premises and directing that only urgent cases will be taken up for hearing through video-conferencing.

Video-conferencing is conducted by the court through the Vidyo app, which can be downloaded on mobile phones and desktops.

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