The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) has filed a plea in the top court to issue direction to quash the Standard Operating Procedure (SoP) issued on March 5 for hybrid hearing without due consultation with the lawyers’ body.
In the writ petition, the bar association said it is an equal stakeholder in the dispensation of the justice delivery system and the suggestions given by it ought to have been taken into consideration. Citing SCBA president Vikas Singh’s letter, the plea said he had given suggestions on March 2 for resumption of physical hearing, which has not been considered by the apex court.
“That even if before resumption of full physical hearing before this court, a hybrid hearing was to be introduced as an interim measure, in that case the hybrid hearing should have been for all days i.e. from Monday to Friday. In the SOP dated 05.03.2021, there is no provision for hybrid hearing for the matters listed on Monday and Friday, i.e. Miscellaneous days when primarily fresh matters are listed”, said the plea.
The plea contended that there is a general feeling in the Bar that for the last few years the top court registry has been issuing circulars without taking it into confidence even though such orders issued directly affect the lawyers practicing before this court. Aggrieved with no oral mentioning of matter, the lawyers’ body said in the March 5 SoP there was no provision for oral mentioning for urgent matter, which was a regular practice in the normal course of functioning before the pandemic.
“This last one year has affected especially younger members of the Bar and also there were lot of problems with regarding to muting and unmuting of lawyers in virtual hearing for last one year,” added the plea.
The secretary general of the top court on March 5, had issued a circular stating that the court March 15, onwards, as a pilot scheme, will begin final hearing or regular matters listed on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays through hybrid mode. The circular said the direction for hybrid hearing has been issued by Chief Justice S A Bobde after examining requests from Bar associations and the recommendations of the top court judges committee.
“Judges have a sterile route to and from the court room and there are glass partitions which separate the judges in the court room from the lawyers and litigants. So basically, it is the lawyers and litigants who would be at some risk if at all so the SOP dated 05.03.2021 ought to have been issued after consulting the Bar, which had already written for the resumption of physical hearing,” the SCBA’s plea stated.