Lawyers, clerks can physically access SC Registry from February 8 in three slots

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New Delhi, Feb 4 (PTI) Lawyer and their clerks will be permitted to physically access the Supreme Court Registry from February 8 in three slots by following strict COVID-19 protocols and guidelines, the Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association (SCAORA) said on Thursday.

'In the coordination committees meeting held today evening, by the competent authorities of the Registry with the executive committee of SCAORA and Supreme Court Bar Association it was decided that pursuant to SCAORA's representation dated December 31, 2021, access to the registry to Advocates On Record/Authorised Advocates of AOR's/Registered Clerks will be available from February 8, 2021, on the basis of 100 people per one and a half an hour in three slots i.e., 10.00 am to 11.30 am, 11.30 am to 1.00 pm and 2.30 pm to 04.00 pm ,' a release from the bar body said.

The release also said that access to Libraries, Bar room and Ladies bar Lounge will be allowed to limited members from 09:30 am to 5:30 pm while access to limited opening of Advocates Locker Area will also be allowed.

'The Cafeteria for Litigants will be opened as per existing and applicable COVID-19 protocols.

The timings of the Chamber blocks will be extended to 07.00 pm and the chamber blocks will remain open on all days including gazetted holidays.,' the release said.

The bar body said that aforesaid access will be available from February 8, following strict existing protocols and guidelines for containment of COVID 19, in the country. The requisite standard operating procedure (SOP) will follow shortly, the release said.

The information was communicated by Dr Joseph Aristotle S, Secretary, SCAORA.

Earlier, the Bar Council of India (BCI) had said that physical hearing in the Supreme Court will soon resume in a hybrid manner amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amid protest by several advocates demanding resumption of physical hearing in the top court, a meeting was held on February 1 in which the CJI, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, bar leaders including BCI chairman Manan Kumar Mishra as also office bearers of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) as well as Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association and senior advocate Vikas Singh discussed the issue.

'The Chief Justice of India made it clear that the judges of Supreme Court themselves are willing to restart the open court hearings but there are medical and technical issues which the registry of Supreme Court of India is trying to sort out and solve. Therefore, it will be done gradually,” said a press release issued by the BCI Chairman on February 1.

“The secretary-general (of the apex court) was asked by Justice Bobde to get the technical problems solved at the earliest so that courts could resume its functioning physically from the first week of March 2021,” Mishra, who is also a senior advocate, had said.

The apex court has been hearing cases through video-conferencing since March last year amid the pandemic and several bar bodies and lawyers, including former SCBA President Vikas Singh, have been demanding that physical hearing should resume immediately.