While speaking at the Felicitation Function organized in honor of Chief Justice and other Judges of Supreme Court organized by Lady Advocates of Supreme Court, the Chief Justice Of India NC Ramana said that the Judges don't have any problem with the opening of the courts and expressed hope that post-Dussehra, the physical hearing of courts would resume.
"I have no issue, even during the pandemic time I was ready... the majority of the advocates are not preferring (physical courts) for whatever reason. Senior counsels have some reservations but youngsters and other advocates are willing to come," the CJI said
The CJI further said that the President of Supreme Court Bar Association, Vikas Singh told him that there is some problem with the SOP and so it would be made liberal, the CJI added. Importantly, regarding the fully opening of courts, the CJI said that he doesn't want to take risks while fully opening the courts. "We hope that there are no more waves, and shortly, after most probably post-Dussehra vacations, we can go for the physical hearing," the CJI remarked.
Lastly, the CJI also clarified that Judges do not have any problem with the physical hearing. "After all we are in an elevated place and (behind) glasses, it is the problem for the Lawyers and their clerks."
A Bench comprising the Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, Justice Nageswara Rao, and Justice Surya Kant expressed disappointment at lawyers turning up to Court for physical hearings in fewer numbers, after the resumption of physical hearing of cases in Supreme Court with a hybrid option, from September 1, 2021. The Bench also indicated that once the lawyers start coming to Court for hearings, the issues related to the Standard Operating Procedures can be sorted out. The Bench made the observations while considering its Suo Motu case regarding the extension of the limitation period due to the Covid pandemic. The Bench indicated that it will recall its Suo Motu order of April 27, 2021, which had extended with effect from March 14, 2021, the limitation period for filing of cases in view of the COVID second wave.
The Supreme Court Bar Association in March through its representation to CJI had asserted that virtual hearing was only a "stop-gap" arrangement to keep the wheels of justice moving during the pandemic and that Open Court hearing is both a convention and a Constitutional requirement. Stating that the pandemic was "very much in control", it had urged CJI to open the Supreme Court for physical hearing of cases.
Post several representations made in an attempt to restart physical hearings by Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association, SCBA, etc., the Supreme Court of India had decided to start hearing cases in a hybrid manner from March 15th, 2021 on an experimental basis. However, the second wave of covid and surge in cases put a halt on the efforts of resuming court hearings physically or in hybrid form.