Supreme Court issues SOP for physical hearing from September 1
The Supreme Court has released a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for physical hearing of matters, which is slated to begin on an "experimental" basis and as a “Pilot Scheme” from September 1.
The SOP provides that despite the consent of the advocates or parties-in-person, only such number of parties or counsel would be allowed to enter "so that the total number does not exceed the working capacity of the Court(s) as determined considering the physical distancing norms."
The SOP says that If in a matter 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 upto the Court-rooms;
“Entry into the High Security Zone through proximity cards/long term passes shall be kept suspended, till further orders; entry of counsels/parties or such other stakeholders to appear for such limited physical hearing will be through daily “Special hearing passes” which will be issued by the Registry, on the basis of authorization by the concerned Advocate on Record”.
The SOP also provides guidelines/ directions for the Ld. Advocates/ parties in person for appearing physically in Hon’ble Court.
· That the wearing of mask, frequent use of hand sanitizer and maintaining physical distancing norms is mandatory for all entrants into the Supreme Court premises, including the Court-rooms;
· Ld. Advocates/Parties-in-Person/Clerks or other stakeholders, who have been issued Special Hearing Passes, upon completion of necessary formalities, online or otherwise as may be notified in due time, shall enter the High Security Zone through the designated Gate, after subjecting themselves to the thermal and such other scanning devices as may be installed for detecting body temperature, infection status, etc.
· On entering the High Security Zone, Ld. Advocates/Parties-in-Person would proceed to the staging areas/vacant Court-rooms as may be designated, and wait for their turn to enter respective Court Rooms where physical hearing of their respective case(s) may be scheduled, and they would proceed only through the movement corridors created and demarcated for the purpose;
· The entry into and exit from each Court Room shall be by separate doors; entrants into the Court Rooms are advised to use the sanitization devices for sanitizing their hands and also the papers and other items/articles, that they may seek to carry into the Court Rooms with them;
· On completion of hearing of their respective case, the Ld. Advocates/Parties-in-Person/Clerks, etc. shall move out of the High Security Zone through the movement corridor and exit from the designated gates;
· Ld. Advocates/Parties-in-Person having more than one case for physical hearing in the Court Rooms shall be issued separate Special Hearing Pass for each case and after hearing of one case is complete, they may wait in the designated staging/waiting area(s) for the purpose for appearing for the next hearing(s);
For Ld. Advocates/parties in person appearing through video conferencing, a dedicated VC facilitation centre was also made on Ground Floor of Block C, Additional Building Complex, Supreme Court of India, which can be accessed through Gate No.1 of that Complex.