New Delhi: A committee of seven Supreme Court judges is inclined to begin physical hearings in at least two or three of its 15 benches as early as next week, said sources familiar with the development. The top court could also begin hearings with some additional safety measures.
According to Shivaji M. Jadhav, president of Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association (SCAORA), the committee of seven judges, constituted by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde, met the Bar leaders on Tuesday and "is seriously considering to start at least 2-3 physical courts from the next week". Since March 25, the top court has been taking up matters through video conferencing and even after the restrictions were relaxed, it has decided to continue to take up cases virtually.
The seven-judge committee headed by Justice N.V. Ramana, in the last week of July, had told the Bar leaders that it is not inclined to resume open court hearing for the time being, and told them the committee will meet again after two weeks to examine the matter.
"I may also add that the physical courts are in addition to virtual courts and people would have the option to do virtual hearing as well. Matters from the final hearing list published before the lockdown would be listed before the physical courts. A final decision would be taken by the Hon'ble Judges committee in a day or two", said Jadhav. He added that in the meantime the Registry would take necessary steps to prepare the courts for physical functioning.
The judges' committee met Bar leaders such as Bar Council Chairperson Manan Kumar Mishra, Supreme Court Bar Association President Dushyant Dave and Shivaji Jadhav to discuss the process to resume physical hearings in the apex court. In June and July, the judges' committee did not agree to the demands of various lawyers' associations to resume regular courtroom hearings, and instead said that it will review it later.
Justices Ramana, Arun Mishra, Rohinton Nariman, U.U. Lalit, A.M. Khanwilkar, D.Y. Chandrachud and L.N. Rao are on the committee set up by the Chief Justice to examine the issues connected with the resumption of physical hearings.