The Supreme Court has released a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for physical hearings of matters, which is slated to begin on an “experimental” basis from September 1.
The SOP for physical hearings notes 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 hearings distancing norms.”
The SOP for physical hearings states that entry into the High Security Zones with proximity cards will remain suspended as for now.
“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 following will be the protocol for physical hearing to be observed at the Supreme Court premises:
1. Advocates/parties-in-person/clerks or other stakeholders who have been issued Special Hearing Passes, upon completion of necessary formalities, shall enter the High Security Zone through the designated gate, after subjecting themselves to the thermal and such other scanning devices.
2. On entering the High Security Zone, advocates/parties-in-person would proceed to the staging areas/vacant courtrooms and wait for their turn to enter the respective courtrooms where physical hearing of their cases may be scheduled. They will proceed only through the movement corridors created and demarcated for the purpose.
3. The entry into and exit from each courtroom shall be by separate doors; entrants into the courtrooms are advised to sanitize their hands and also the papers and other items/articles that they may seek to carry into the courtrooms with them.
4. Wearing of mask, frequent use of hand sanitizer and maintaining physical distancing norms is mandatory for all entrants into the Supreme Court premises, including courtrooms.
5. On completion of hearing of their respective cases, the advocates/parties-in-person/clerks, etc. shall move out of the High Security Zone through the movement corridor and exit from the designated gates.
6. Advocates/parties-in-person having more than one case for physical hearing in the courtrooms 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).
7. in order to facilitate video/tele-conferencing for advocates/parties-in-person, a dedicated VC Facilitation Centre is located in Block ‘C’, Ground Floor of the Supreme Court’s Additional Building Complex, which can be accessed through Gate No.1 of that complex.
There will also be multiple sets of chairs and tables to be placed inside the courtrooms, in the areas demarcated for the Advocates/Parties-in-Person, and “it shall be incumbent upon the users to maintain minimum prescribed physical distancing norms between each set, which should not be removed from their positions.”
Read the SOP here: