The Supreme Court on Tuesday hinted it is exploring the possibility of resuming physical courts and asked advocates for their joint consent that they are willing to appear in person. The move comes amid demands from the lawyers' groups that physical hearings - which were suspended in March because of the coronavirus lockdown - should be restarted.
For the last two months, the Supreme Court has been hearing cases via videoconferencing to avoid the risk of coronavirus spread. It has issued a notice to all advocates and parties that wish to appear in person to send their consent for physical appearance.
"In view of the request received from various quarters and in order to explore the feasibility of physical appearance of the advocates in the court, while adhering to social distancing norms, it is hereby notified to all the advocates and party-in-person to give their joint consent with regard to willingness for physically appearing and arguing in the court," the notice said.
"Only on receipt of consent of all parties to that effect, the matter will be considered for listing before the Hon'ble Court, subject to availability of the Bench and also subject to the order of the competent authority and social distancing norms," it added.
Lawyers will have to give their consent with regard to their willingness to appear before the real courtrooms on the e-mail address, ''email@example.com''.
The Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association (SCAORA) on Tuesday requested Chief Justice of India SA Bobde and other judges to resume physical court hearings from July, while pointing out the "practical difficulties" faced by lawyers in effectively presenting their cases through virtual hearings.
The body had said that 95 per cent of the lawyers were not comfortable with the virtual court hearings and they were not able to present their cases properly.
The Supreme Court had issued fresh standard operating procedure (SoP) last month, saying it will hear all cases via video and audio links between May 18 and June 19. It had ordered scaling up of its "1881" helpline to assist advocates and litigants in e-filing and virtual hearing.
With inputs from PTI