New Delhi: The Supreme Court will begin hybrid hearings (physical and virtual) on an experimental basis from March 15. The apex court said a pilot basis final hearing/regular matters listed on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays will be heard through hybrid mode. Also Read - There Should be Some Screening: Supreme Court Seeks OTT Regulations From Centre
The Secretary-General of the Supreme Court in a circular issued on March 5, said the Chief Justice of India SA Bobde has issued some directions and Standard Operating Procedure on commencing of the hybrid mode of hearing in the apex court amid the ongoing Covid 19 pandemic. Also Read - Dissent Cannot be Termed Seditious, Says Supreme Court; Junks Plea Against Farooq Abdullah
“On an experimental basis, and as a pilot scheme, the final hearing/regular matters listed on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays may be heard in the hybrid model, as may be decided by the Bench, considering the number of parties in a matter as well as the limited capacity of the Courtrooms; all other matters, including those listed on Mondays and Fridays shall continue to be heard through video/teleconferencing mode,” the circular said. Also Read - Kangana Ranaut And Rangoli Move Supreme Court For Transfer of Legal Cases to Shimla
Unless otherwise directed by the Bench, final hearing/regular matters where the number of advocates for the parties are more than the average working capacity of the Courtrooms, as per Covid-19 norms, i.e. 20 per Courtroom at any given time, shall invariably be listed for hearing through video/teleconferencing mode, it added.
The circular said if a matter listed for hybrid hearing, the number of parties is more, then Advocate on Record (AOR) and one arguing counsel per party will be allowed entry; one registered clerk per party, as may be chosen by the AOR, shall be allowed entry to carry paper-books/journals of the counsels upto the Courtrooms.
It said that in hybrid hearing, all the counsels appearing for one party can appear either through physical presence or through video/teleconferencing.
The circular further said that wearing of a mask, frequent use of hand sanitizer and maintaining physical distancing norms is mandatory for all entrants into the Supreme Court premises, including into the Court-rooms.
The Supreme Court has been hearing cases via video conferencing for almost a year following the nation-wide lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
(With ANI inputs)