SCBA Plea Against SOP For Hybrid Hearings : Supreme Court Calls For Minutes Of Meeting From SC Registry

first_imgTop StoriesSCBA Plea Against SOP For Hybrid Hearings : Supreme Court Calls For Minutes Of Meeting From SC Registry Radhika Roy12 March 2021 12:36 AMShare This – xThe Supreme Court on Friday called for the report and Minutes and Meeting from the Supreme Court Registry in a plea filed by the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) seeking quashing of the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) issued by the Registry last week for enabling “Hybrid Physical Hearing” from March 15 onwards. A Bench headed by Justice SK Kaul took into account the submission…Your free access to Live Law has expiredTo read the article, get a premium account.Your Subscription Supports Independent JournalismSubscription starts from ₹ 599+GST (For 6 Months)View PlansPremium account gives you:Unlimited access to Live Law Archives, Weekly/Monthly Digest, Exclusive Notifications, Comments.Reading experience of Ad Free Version, Petition Copies, Judgement/Order Copies.Subscribe NowAlready a subscriber?LoginThe Supreme Court on Friday called for the report and Minutes and Meeting from the Supreme Court Registry in a plea filed by the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) seeking quashing of the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) issued by the Registry last week for enabling “Hybrid Physical Hearing” from March 15 onwards. A Bench headed by Justice SK Kaul took into account the submission of Senior Advocate and SCBA President Vikas Singh that consultation with the Bar had not taken place before a decision was taken for the hybrid-style hearings. The Top Court accordingly directed the Registry to place before it the report and the Minutes of Meeting pertaining to the discussions that had taken place leading up to the SOP on hybrid hearings. In today’s hearing, Singh submitted before the Court that there were two aspects of the matter. “There is a situation where the notification under the Disaster Management Act is in place. Till it’s present, nobody will have a say as it overrides everything. After the period under DMA gets over, the decision has to be made with consultation between the Bar and the Bench. Nobody can take the decision unilaterally”, averred Singh. He went on to highlight that the convenience of some could not be used to rule what was correct and what was not correct. “Some members of the Bar may find it convenient, but Bar as a whole needs to decide. Judges come to a sterilized Court. They are 99% protected because of glass shields etc. Today’s report shows that people are becoming irresponsible, I don’t expect the Bar to be that way”, stated Singh. Singh also contended that while senior lawyers and law firms found it convenient, the average lawyer or the average client would not be placed similarly. Further, he stated that lawyers were basically daily wagers and did not want the people to die of starvation. “Today, COVID-19 is not killing people. If experts’ opinions are to be taken into consideration, then even experts have taken a call that 200 people in closed spaces can congregate, such as during weddings. We can take a break, we have the leisure. But the average lawyer cannot take a break”, continued Singh. At this juncture, Justice Kaul observed that before the virtual hearings had commenced, everyone was skeptical about appearing through video conferencing. However, now even State Counsels and young lawyers had begun appearing, and that people had gotten used to it. Singh then reiterated his submission that as the report had been made without the consultation of the Bar, it had to go. “Till then we can have hybrid. But, it’s impossible to manage with this SOP. No discussion has taken place. I have even put this on Affidavit. We had a discussion on 1st March with the CJI and on 2nd, I wrote a letter. But, that letter has not even been mentioned”, concluded Singh. The matter will now be heard next Tuesday. The plea, filed through Advocate Rahul Kaushik, states that the impugned SOP dated March 5 has been issued by the Registry without consultation with the Bar. “Bar is an equal stakeholder in the dispensation of the Justice Delivery System and the suggestions given by the Bar ought to have been taken into consideration”, the plea says. The plea avers that in the meeting of the Executive Committee of the SCBA with the CJI, held on March 1, regarding the physical/hybrid hearing, it was assured that the needful would be done by the Registry expeditiously taking into consideration the suggestions given by the Executive Committee. However, it is claimed, that the impugned SOP has been issued “unilaterally” by the Registry. The plea further submits that there is general feeling in the Bar that for the last few years, the Supreme Court Registry has been issuing Circulars without taking the Bar into confidence, even though such circulars directly affect the Lawyers practicing. Supreme Court of India had issued its Standard Operating Procedure dated 5th March, directing resumption of hybrid court hearings from 15th March. The Court issued several directions regarding its functioning in consideration of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and suggestions given by the Bar Associations. The Court devised a pilot scheme to hear cases in the hybrid mode on an experimental basis. According to the scheme, the final hearing and regular matters listed on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays will be heard in the hybrid mode , after consideration of the number of parties in a matter and the limited capacity of the Court rooms. However all other matters, including those listed on Mondays and Fridays will continue to be heard through video -conferencing mode. On Saturday, the SCBA decided to not accept the said SOP as it was prepared without taking into confidence the Bar, despite the assurance given to them by CJI Bobde in the meeting held on March 1st 2021. In its plea, the Association insists that hybrid hearing should have been for all days i.e. from Monday to Friday. However, in the impugned SOP, it said, “there is no provision for hybrid hearing for the matters listed on Monday and Friday, i.e. Miscellaneous days when primarily fresh matters are listed.” The plea also raises the issue of oral mentioning before the Supreme Court, a practice that was prevalent during pre-Covid days. It states, “For around last one year this Hon’ble Court is working through virtual hearing and there is no provision for Oral mentioning in Standard Operating Procedure dated 05.03.2021 and as a result lawyers would still not be able to make Oral mentioning.” It states that a large number of urgent matters are going unheard because of the peculiar system of listing, i.e. sending an email to the Mentioning Registrar giving the reasons for urgency. The Association said that most of the High Courts, including the Delhi High Court, have either started holding Physical Courts or are in the process of starting Physical Courts, and it is high time that like every other institution, the Supreme Court also restores normalcy and begins physical hearings with adequate precautions like temperature check at entry points, wearing of masks and maintenance of social distancing. Click Hear To Download/Read Order Next Storylast_img

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