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Physical hearings to begin in hybrid manner first, CJI tells advocates in meeting

Bar Council of India Chairman Manan Kumar Mishra, Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta, officer-bearers of the SCAORA, the Supreme Court Bar Association and Senior Advocate Vikas Singh met the Chief Justice on resuming physical hearings.

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Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde has said that the process to resume physical hearings has begun and will, for the time-being, be reintroduced via hybrid hearings. The CJI said this when he met senior advocates on Monday in response to the Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association’s (SCAORA) request for resumption of physical hearings.

The physical hearing will soon begin based on the normal listing and not on the consent of the AORs/advocates.

Bar Council of India Chairman Manan Kumar Mishra, Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta, officer-bearers of the SCAORA, the Supreme Court Bar Association and Senior Advocate Vikas Singh  met the Chief Justice on resuming physical hearings.

It was decided advocates, their assignees or nominees will be able to access the registry from February 8. 

The process for resumption of physical hearings has already begun and will be available soon in a hybrid manner, i.e in both modes of physical and virtual hearing at the earliest. The hearing will only happen after considering the medical advice and clearing the existing impediments regarding health of stakeholders, technology infrastructure and availability of Registry staff, said SCAORA secretary Dr. Joseph Aristotle S.

Cases will also be allowed based on their urgency in a phased manner, and the timing of the chambers will also be extended and relaxed, according to the SCAORA official.

Since March 2020, the Supreme Court has been holding virtual hearing due to the Covid-19 pandemic. A circular was issued suspending the entry of lawyers and litigants to the court premises. It was directed that only urgent cases will be heard through video conferencing. 

Earlier in September, the court had tried to resume physical hearing, but with no success. 

It was the release of Covid-19 vaccine, which made the demand for the resumption of physical hearing stronger. On Sunday, SCAORA had written to the Chief Justice, seeking the resumption of physical hearing with existing virtual courts in a hybrid manner as many advocates, mostly junior advocates, were facing financial problems. Also many litigants were equally facing difficulties as many matters were yet to be listed.

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According to the association, the Covid-19 restrictions have been curtailed, and with the commencement of the process of vaccination, the advocates were endeavouring to attain normalcy. Therefore, the resumption of physical hearings was sought.

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