Taking stock of requests for re-commencing physical hearings at the Top Court, the Supreme Court has called upon Advocates and Parties-in-person to give their written consent stating that the same shall only be considered on receipt of the same.
The circular signed under the hand of the additional registrar has been released today and states that,
"In view of the request received from various quarters and in order to explore the feasibility of physical appearance of advocates in the court, while adhering to social distancing norms, it is hereby notified to all the advocates and party-in-person to give their joint consent for physically appearing and arguing in court, only on receipt of consent of all parties to that effect, the matter will be considered for listing before the Hon'ble Court, subject to availability of the bench"
The circular has further made it clear that the order for commencing physical court hearings shall only take place subject to the order of the competent authority and the requisite social distancing norms.
The Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association (SCAORA) today had addressed a letter to CJI SA Bobde, urging him to restore working of the Courts in a physical setting, from July, 2020.
The letter highlighted that Open Court hearings are the "spine" of the Indian legal system and that Virtual Courts are not a substitute to physical Courts.
Attention had also been drawn towards the "practical difficulties" in online filing and hearing of cases via video conferencing.
The letter stated that almost 95% lawyers are not comfortable with the Virtual Court hearings as they are not well equipped with knowledge on the use of computers. "The common feedback seems to be that the lawyers are unable to present their cases effectively in the Virtual medium and the same is acting as a major deterrent for lawyers to consent for such virtual hearings," stated the SCAORA.
Earlier, on April 28, the Bar Council of India had requested the CJI not to continue the system of E-filings and Virtual headings, post lockdown.
"There is humongous difference in the technical knowhow of persons often according to age gap, and often according to difference in mode and manner of education, and resources and technology available from place to place," the Council had stated.
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