New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday March 30 said it will resume full-fledged physical hearing of cases from April 4, after a gap of more than two years, when it switched to virtual hearing due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Chief Justice NV Ramana said the court will resume physical hearing April 4 onwards. “Monday onwards, we are opening fully, physically,” he said.
The Chief Justice added that on Monday and Friday, the court will provide links to the advocates for the virtual hearing, if they ask for it.
Supreme Court Bar Association president Vikas Singh appreciated the decision to resume physical hearing. “The Bar expresses its gratitude for the decision,” said Singh.
Currently, the top court is hearing the matters physically on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and conducts hearings through video conference on Monday and Friday.
The apex court began hearing cases through video conferencing on March 23, 2020 after the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
On February 7, in the backdrop of declining Covid cases, the Supreme Court had said it will resume limited physical hearing from February 14.
A circular issued had said: “In view of significant decline in the number of Covid-19 cases and positivity rate, and in the light of the various instructions issued by the Delhi Disaster Management Authority, Government of NCT of Delhi vide Order dated February 4, 2022, the Chief Justice of India, in consultation with the Committee of Judges, has been pleased to direct that the Modified Standard Operating Procedure notified on October 7, 2021 for hearing before the Court shall stand revived, and all hearings before the Court from February 14, 2022 shall be in accordance with the said Modified Standard Operating Procedure notified on October 7, 2021.”
According to the SOP issued in October last year, the virtual hearings were held only on miscellaneous days — Monday and Friday, while matters listed for hearing on Wednesday and Thursday required physical presence of the lawyers in the courtrooms.
On Tuesday, the cases were heard in physical mode, however, on prior application by the advocate-on-record for the party, the appearance through video mode will be facilitated.
After the increase in Covid cases in the beginning of January this year, the Supreme Court had suspended the October SOP.