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SC Not In Favour Of Resuming Open Court Hearings Soon Amid Rise In COVID-19 Cases

10 Jun 2020 4:30 AM GMT
SC Not In Favour Of Resuming Open Court Hearings Soon Amid Rise In COVID-19 Cases
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A seven-judge committee of the Supreme Court is not in favour of resuming regular open court hearings in the wake of pandemic, as per a report of the Economic Times.

"The committee, headed by Supreme Court judge, justice NV Ramana, met on Monday and decided that courts cannot be opened for regular hearings. This is a serious situation and infection is spreading and chances cannot be taken,"  ET quoted a source who was privy to the developments.

A decision in this regard is likely by the end of June.

Reportedly, some judges expressed sympathies with the plight of advocates, but expressed helplessness.

"Yes, it is very difficult for them, but these are challenging times," said one of the judges.

The Supreme Court will have summer vacations from June 19 till July 6. Earlier, the Court had decided to curtail the 45-day summer vacation to two weeks, to make up for the loss of working hours caused due to the lockdown.

The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) led by its president Dushyant Dave had written to member lawyers on June 4 seeking their views on resumption of regular courtroom proceedings for apprising the judges' panel of its views.

Favouring resumption of open courts, Dave had also said, "Administration of justice cannot remain virtually closed for an indefinite period".

SCBA said there was an "existential question" and without the court's functioning, lawyers, except a privileged few, are in dire need "for the court to start to give them a chance to work and livelihood".

The SCAORA (Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association) also demanded resumption of physical courtroom hearings.

The Bar Council of India had also urged the top court to resume physical functioning at the earliest.

In a letter sent to Chief Justice of India, the BCI Chairperson, Manan Kumar Mishra, said that virtual courts were benefiting only a few elite lawyers and that most advocates were suffering.

"The cases of only a few fortunate persons are being fixed, the kith and kin of only a few have earned huge money during this lockdown in almost all the High Courts. Such messages are pouring regularly in BCI.

This has caused great loss to Common Advocates and there is a resentment developing among 95% of Advocates in almost all Courts.

Therefore, we are bringing all these harsh facts to the knowledge of our Apex Authority. Almost same is the case with Supreme Court Advocates.", the BCI Chairperson said, urging the resumption of physical functioning from June 1.

Earlier, Justice Chandrachud, who heads the e-courts committee to the SC, had said that virtual courts cannot fully replace open courts.

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