Supreme Court To Conduct Hearings In Virtual Mode From Friday Amid Rise In Covid Cases

7 Jan, 2022 12:31 IST|Sakshi Post

Due to an increase in COVID cases, the Supreme Court will begin hearing cases in virtual mode on Friday.

In light of the escalating number of cases of the Omicron form of COVID-19, the Supreme Court ordered on January 2 to hold all hearings in virtual mode for two weeks beginning January 3.

Due to the pandemic, the Supreme Court has started hearing cases through video conferencing since March 2020.

New Delhi: Due to an unexpected increase in the number of COVID-19 cases, the Supreme Court decided on Thursday to begin hearing all cases in virtual form from Friday.

The benches will sit at the residential offices beginning January 7, according to a circular published by the supreme court administration.

"Only extremely urgent 'mentioned' matters, fresh matters, bail matters, matters involving stay, detention matters, and fixed date matters will be listed before the courts w.e.f (with effect from) January 10, 2022, till further orders," the circular said.

It said that until further orders, transfer petitions will be heard by ordinary benches rather than a single judge bench.

Until further orders, petitions for exemption from surrendering will be heard by normal benches rather than chamber judges, according to the circular.

At a hearing on Thursday, Chief Justice N V Ramana, who was leading a bench that included Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli, stated during a hearing on Thursday that the COVID-19 problem has resurfaced.

"Unfortunately, again, the problem has started and we are also conscious of this.... It seems we may not be able to hear cases in physical mode for the next four to six weeks," the CJI said.

In light of the escalating number of cases of the Omicron form of COVID-19, the Supreme Court ordered on January 2 to hold all hearings in virtual mode for two weeks beginning January 3.

The Supreme Court administration issued a circular stating that a previous circular establishing standard operating procedures (SOP) for physical hearings (hybrid hearings) will be temporarily postponed.

"It is hereby notified for the information of the members of the bar, party-in-person and all concerned that keeping in view the rising number of cases of Omicron variant (COVID-19), the competent authority has been pleased to direct that the modified Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) notified on October 7, 2021, for physical hearing (hybrid mode) will remain suspended for the present, and all hearings before the courts for a period of two weeks from and with effect from January 3, shall be conducted through virtual mode only," the circular said.

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It published the SOP on October 7, last year, indicating that topics requiring long hearings would be heard on Wednesdays and Thursdays for physical hearings.

Hearings of cases were held in virtual mode solely on Mondays and Fridays to prevent overcrowding, and in hybrid mode on Tuesdays to avoid overcrowding.

Due to the pandemic, the Supreme Court has started hearing cases through video conferencing since March 2020.

The SOP was released on October 7, 2021, after numerous bar associations and attorneys urged that physical hearings be restarted soon due to a drop in coronavirus cases at the time.

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