New Delhi, Jul 7 (PTI) The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) has urged the Chief Justice of India N V Ramana to resume the physical hearing in the Supreme Court saying the COVID-19 situation in the national capital has become “almost normal”. In a letter written to the CJI on Tuesday, the apex court's bar body, through its President and senior advocate Vikas Singh, said the COVID positivity rate as on July 5 has come down to 0.09 per cent, that is 54 positive cases were reported out of 61,405 tests and the physical hearings can now be started by observing the COVID appropriate behaviour.
The SCBA suggested that only advocates may be allowed to enter courtrooms as caution while litigants and media persons can watch the proceedings through virtual mode.
“Even litigants should not be allowed to enter the courtroom as we do not know their vaccination status and they should only watch the court proceedings through virtual mode,' it said.
Suggesting the modalities for resuming physical hearing, the association said 'all courts must sit at 10:30 am as has been the practice of this court. On Miscellaneous days, i.e., Monday and Friday, there should be six slots of 45 minutes each wherein 10 matters shall be assigned in every slot of 45 minutes so that around 60 matters can be taken up for hearing.
“As on Non-Miscellaneous days, i.e., Tuesdays to Thursdays, subject to overnight part-heard matters, two slots of 45 minutes each should be assigned for miscellaneous /final disposal matters and thereafter three slots of one hour each should be assigned for two final hearing matters in each slot so that around six final hearing matters can be taken up for hearing,” the Singh said in the letter.
He said that after completion of each slot of miscellaneous and final hearing matter, the courtrooms should be vacated and thereafter properly sanitised by persons duly trained in the task.
“Matters before the Registrar's Court may be continued as of now by virtual mode but in full capacity as was the practice before the pandemic situation.Chamber judge matters and Single Judge matters should also be taken up in physical hearing mode,” the SCBA said.
“The proximity cards/long term passes shall not be kept under suspension and the lawyers may be allowed to access the Libraries and Lounges in the High Security Zone. The same can be monitored by the SCBA in its wisdom ensuring that no overcrowding takes place in the high Security Zone,” it said.
While suggesting that the condition in the national capital has come to 'almost normal' as far as COVID-19 situation is concerned , the SCBA President also said “As the situation stands today, nobody knows when things may further escalate and a third wave may also become a possibility. In these uncertain circumstances, I feel that we have to resume our activities on the basis of the current situation. “The way forward in today's scenario would be to start the court with normal functioning by observing the COVID appropriate behaviour so that the court functioning do not in any manner increase the Covid impact even if a third wave were to come,” the SCBA said.
The Executive Committee of the SCBA has already taken proactive step to vaccinate all it's members and their family members, it said. It said that in the month of May 2021, the SCBA-EC had purchased vaccines from Serum Institute of India at private rates in bulk and started vaccinating the under 45 age category on a war footing so as to cover maximum number of people as mentioned above. As far as the 45+ age category is concerned, SCBA started the vaccination drive on March 16, 2021, the association said.
“The so called third wave, if it comes, would be known only when mutation of virus takes place and since the government is aggressively conducting genome sequencing, the fact of the third wave would be known in the public domain, the moment it starts. “In my view, if we continue to function with COVID appropriate behaviour even with the advent of the third wave, our premises cannot be a place which will aggravate the spread of COVID as almost all our stake holders have had their first dose of vaccine and majority have taken both the shots,” it said. PTI UK SJK RKS RKS