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Business As Usual In The Supreme Court From Next Week, Minus The Robes

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The long wait for judges, lawyers and litigants for normal business to resume at the Supreme Court is to come to an end this week.

A Supreme Court committee headed by Justice L Nageswara Rao, which has got the concurrence of other Senior judges has recommended that normal functioning of the courts will start from Monday, May 18. Detailed guidelines outlining the modalities are being finalised and will be issued at the earliest.

It may be recalled that only yesterday, the court had decided that hearings will be conducted from lawyers chambers. No sooner had the decision been made than eyebrows went up particularly among junior lawyers and other lawyers who do not have their chambers inside the court complex

Ever since the COVID19 broke out and the lockdown was clamped,  the Supreme Court has been hearing only urgent matter through video conferencing from the residence of Senior Judges. Lawyers were shared “codes”  to enable them to participate in the hearing via video-conferencing. It did work mostly, but it was not without faults—many a time, inconvenience was caused when the link was broken or what transpired could not be understood. Also there was no permanent set up at the residence of judges, thus making it imperative that each time a bench was nominated to hear a case, the technical team used to visit the residence of judges to install the system and other paraphernalia related to the systems.

It has also been decided that henceforth, judges and lawyers will not have to wear the gowns and robes. This information was given earlier today by CJI Bobde to Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal during a hearing that instructions would be released soon for lawyers and judges to not wear robes and gowns in order to curb the spread of COVID-19.

All these development follow recommendations made by the committee, which suggested several measures including cutting the summer vacation and hearing cases via video-conferencing etc to make up for lost time due to the lockdown. In the wake of coronavirus pandemic, the top court had last month said that “court hearing in the congregation must become an “exception” during the “extraordinary outbreak” of COVID-19 pandemic.”

-India Legal Bureau

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