SC to take up lawyers' plea for optional physical hearings


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The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to examine a plea by lawyers against the recent circular issued by the Delhi High Court to resume physical hearing in some courts and for trial courts on alternate days in the week.

A bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and comprising Justices L. Nageswara Rao and Vineet Saran said: "We see the gravity of the problem but we would like you to go to the Delhi High Court first. If you still don't get relief there, then come here."

The High Court had taken the decision against the backdrop of decline in Covid-19 cases in the capital. The top court observed that it primarily does not interfere with the administrative functions of the Chief Justice of the High Court.

Senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Mukul Rohatgi, representing petitioner Kartik Nayar and others, emphasised the need to balance the right to life and delivery of justice. "Lawyers will have to come to the court if there is no option," they argued.

The bench replied it agrees with the contention of petitioners' counsel.

Sibal submitted they will move the High Court, but until a decision is taken, physical hearings should be made optional. "It is clear and present danger, till High Court decides, it should be optional," he added.

The top court said it will keep the matter for further hearing on Wednesday, to examine what can be done in the matter.

The plea, filed by practicing lawyers Nayar, Nancy Roy, Sachit Jolly and Amit Bhagat, sought the virtual hearing procedure be continued, citing they have been appearing before the courts through virtual mode on a daily basis amid the pandemic.

The petitioners argued that advocates, litigants and non-legal personnel should not be compelled to appear before the court, as it may prove hazardous for their health and well-being.

The Delhi High Court on January 14, said it has decided to increase the number of judges for physical hearing from January 18 onwards and also issued directions to the district courts to begin physical courts on alternate days of the week.

The office order issued by Registrar General Manoj Jain cited the decision of the Full Court of the High Court wherein 11 benches -- two division benches and nine single-judge benches - will resume physical hearing January 18 onwards and the remaining benches will continue to take up matters virtually.

Source: IANS

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