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Hybrid physical hearing to begin in SC from March 15

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New Delhi, Mar 6 (IANS): Come March 15, the Supreme Court will begin hybrid physical hearing after a gap of nearly one year, when it switched to hearing matter through video conferencing to contain the spread of Covid-19.

According to a circular issued on March 5, the top court will on an experimental basis begin final hearing or regular matters listed on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays through the hybrid mode.

The circular said the direction for hybrid hearing has been issued by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde after examining the requests from the Bar associations and the recommendations of the top court judges’ committee.

“On an experimental basis, and as a pilot scheme, the final hearing/regular matters listed on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays may be heard in the hybrid mode, as may be decided by the Hon’ble Bench, considering the number of parties in a matter as well as the limited capacity of the court rooms; all other matters, including those listed on Mondays and Fridays, shall continue to be heard through the video/tele-conferencing mode,” read the circular.

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The circular added that unless otherwise directed by the bench, final hearing or regular matters where the number of advocates for the parties are more than the average working capacity of the court rooms, as per Covid-19 norms, of 20 per court room at any given time, would invariably be listed for hearing through the video/tele-conferencing mode.

“If in a matter listed for hybrid hearing, the number of parties is more, then one AOR and one arguing counsel per party will be allowed entry; one registered clerk per party, as may be chosen by the AOR, shall be allowed entry to carry paper-books/journals etc. of the counsels up to the court rooms,” added the circular.

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The circular said that in any matter listed for hybrid hearing, all the counsel appearing for one party can appear either through physical presence or through video/tele-conferencing.

In case in a matter directed to be listed for hybrid hearing by the bench, if none of the parties opts for physical hearing, the matter would be taken up for hearing through video/tele-conferencing.

“It may be noted that wearing of mask, frequent use of hand sanitiser and maintaining physical distancing norms are mandatory for all the entrants into the Supreme Court premises, including the court rooms,” it added.

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