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SOP On Hybrid Hearing- "If Your Lordships Feel That Judges Are Above The Law, We Will Have To Take The Law In Our Hands":SCBA President Tells SC

Mehal Jain
23 March 2021 8:02 AM GMT
SOP On Hybrid Hearing- If Your Lordships Feel That Judges Are Above The Law, We Will Have To Take The Law In Our Hands:SCBA President Tells SC

On the issue of the SOP formulated for the hybrid system of hearings, the Supreme Court on Tuesday closed the proceedings in the writ petition filed by the SCBA, noting that the matter cannot be dealt with on the judicial side of the court.

The bench of Justices S. K. Kaul and R. Subhash Reddy recorded that the Coordination Committee had held meetings on February 3, February 4 and February 13 which was attended by the members of the SCBA and the SCAORA, where principal item of agenda was the preparation of the SOP. After the recommendations had been received on February 10, on February 13, the various facets of a hybrid system were discussed. On March 4, the Committee considered all relevant materials, including the opinion of medical experts, and resolved that a hybrid system may commence from March 15; that the SOP was passed after detailed consultation with the SCBA and the SCAORA. All the relevant material, including the recommendations, were placed before the CJI and the SOP came to be published on March 5.
The bench also noted that it was envisaged that should there be any grievances as to any part or term of the SOP, suggestions for modification of the same may be placed before the Committee.
The bench further recorded the submission of SCBA President Mr. Vikas Singh that the earlier meeting with the registry did not consider the perspective of the bar and their problems.
"We asked him if it is acceptable for him to made make any suggestions for modifications, which may be put up for discussion with the Registry. He submits that the SCBA wishes to discuss the matter only with the Judges Committee. There seems to be an impasse on the issue. The course suggested by the Committee is not acceptable to the bar",
said the bench in its order.
"This is not a subject to be discussed under Article 32. It pertains to the administrative working of the court. We endeavoured to facilitate an interaction. It is not acceptable to the bar. We are of the view that on the judicial side, nothing further can be done. Hence, we close these proceedings", observed the bench.
"What is upsetting is that we will not even told! There was no communication at all! We were not even called for the meeting! Your Lordships had passed a judicial order, does it have no value? This is no way to go about things! This is a matter of fundamental rights for our members who are in a problem! We were not even consulted!? We tried our best to have meetings, but we were not called at all! Are we are not a stakeholder in the institution?"
, Vikas Singh submitted.
"If you pitch it so high, there will be complications. Is the bar to run the registry?", remarked Justice Kaul.
"What kind of justice delivery system is this? Are we not an integral part of it? Are we to beg to the Committee to hear us? We wrote to the chief Justice, there was no meeting even after that! Your Lordships said that we be given a hearing, it was not done! What kind of justice is being rendered in this country? This is really sad! ", urged Mr Singh.
"Your Lordships come secured, you have the glass partitions! The problem is with us! We are not even being called to discuss? There is one registrar who is doing everything! The Committee is saying that there are technical issues, but there are no technical issue for us!", he pressed.
"As a Bar Association, do we have a right to be heard before you decide or not? Should we now take to the streets? ",
continued Mr. Singh vehemently.
"We don't want to go back before the Committee! It was the registrar who gave the earlier hearing, there was no discussion. He was rude and he said that whatever SOP is to be there will be decided by the judges. It is the Judge Committee which decided, not the registry! They did not even give us an audience! They did not even hear the problems of the bar! Are we untouchables? There was a detailed letter by the President of the Bar, with the full consent of the bar! Is this how this Court dispenses justice? ",
he continued.
"Why are you saying 'untouchables'?", said Justice Reddy.
"There are certain suggestions that we can make. If they are not acceptable to you, there is not much which can be done. This is a matter on the administrative side of the Court", observed Justice Kaul.
"The administration needs an overhaul! We are not ready to make suggestions to the Registrar General! There has to be an appreciation of the problems faced by the bar!...There is method by which Your Lordships come to the courtroom. Your Lordships are in a sterile room...If the Judges Committee cannot meet the representatives of the bar, there is something wrong! Then I can't control the bar, if they choose to do a 'gherao' of the judges! Don't blame me for what happens later! If they take to the streets, I am not to be blamed! The lower court bar is also there, they have been patient so far! This has never happened anywhere else in the world, that the bar is saying that there is no justice! ",
argued Mr Singh.
"Please issue notice! Let them file an affidavit! Let them say who were all there in the meeting, what was discussed! The Secretary General did not even tell us about the response", went on Mr Singh aggressively.
"We take it that you are not interested in suggesting any modifications to the SOP?", asked Justice Kaul. "The SOP was formulated without me. It has to go! The new SOP can come only with our consultation! This is my stand and it will not be diluted!",
replied Mr Singh.
The bench then proceeded to dictate its order.
"I can't hear Your Lordships' order! I can't hear anything that you are saying. This is the way the bar is treated! ", interrupted Mr Singh. "If you can't hear, then you can't hear. This is enough!", stated Justice Kaul.
"Please record what I am saying also, not just their stand", Mr. Singh intervened to say. "We are only recording the minutes of the meeting! Now what you are doing is an obstruction of court proceedings!"
, observed Justice Kaul.
As the bench disposed off the proceedings, Mr. Singh advanced,
"Your Lordships have said in several matters that an agitational path must not be adopted. But now don't blame us for what happens. If we can't be heard, please don't say anything later! Even affidavits cannot be called? The Supreme Court think it is above justice? Whatever they decide is to be final? We are very sorry that the Judges Committee cannot even reach us!"

As the bench took up the matters pertaining to the Delhi High Court and the district courts, Supreme Court senior advocate Mahalakshmi Pavuni sought to make an intervention on behalf of the SCBA- "We wish to have a healthy dialogue. Our President got emotional. At the previous Committee meeting, there were differences between the 21 of us. After that, not even one single meeting was attended by anyone. Our President was not present even on February 13. Your Lordships may choose the person and we are ready to have a nice dialogue. We are at the apex and the country looks up to us", she urged.
"We told Mr. Singh to not get ballistic. If a seven-judge committee chose not to hear someone, we can't issue them a mandamus", observed Justice Kaul.
"So the registry takes a decision and the judges can't meet us? I have no interest in meeting the judges! It is for the bar that I want to! ", argued Mr Singh, reappearing, even as Ms. Pavuni tries to calm him down. "Please, sir, please… I am sorry, Your Lordships",
she pleaded.
"In today's society, everybody is in a belligerent mood! Do what you please!", said Justice Kaul.
"Very well! We will do whatever we do now! Let's see where we go then! If Your Lordships feel that the judges are above the law, we will have to take the law in our hands!", declared Mr. Singh.

Sr. Adv Geeta Luthra appeared and made submissions with respect to trial courts/district courts the state of affair in terms of crowd gathering and its management.

The DHCBA President Sh Mohit Mathur assured Sr. Adv Geeta Luthra that she along with her other representatives would be given personal hearing on WEBEX on the issues raised.

Supreme Court also observed that the issues with respect to the quasi-judicial bodies will also be dealt with by the administrative side of the High Court of Delhi.

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