Resumption of bodily hearings in SC into consideration

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 20

The Supreme Court – which has been functioning in virtual mode since the middle of March last year – is pondering over resumption of physical hearings.

During hearing of the issue of Maratha reservation, a Constitution Bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan on Wednesday said resumption of physical hearings would be considered within two weeks.

The court’s comments came after senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi sought an adjournment, saying due to the virtual nature of proceedings, advocates were to prepare themselves for the case.

“We are lawyers scattered in different places and there are huge records. It is difficult to argue over virtual hearings. We are not entering into merits. Vaccination process has started and there is a six to eight weeks wait for the elderly,” Rohatgi submitted.

Noting that it didn’t want the hearing to commence on January 25, Justice Bhushan said, “We will keep the matter to pass directions after 2 weeks so that we know from when we start the physical hearing. We can fix a date then.”

The top court – which has stayed the implementation of the Maratha reservation law—deferred the hearing to February 5.

A Bench led by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde said the court was eager to “go back to action” but it would be done only after taking into account the opinion of health experts.

“We also want to get back to the action. But, we want to ask health authorities before that. We are not going to take the opinion of advocates on a health issue,” the CJI said during hearing on petitions challenging the Delhi High Court’s decision to resume large-scale physical hearing in the high court and subordinate courts in the capital from January 18, without giving a choice to lawyers to appear via video conferencing.

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