New Delhi, August 31: The Supreme Court has notified a standard operating procedure (SOP) to govern physical court hearings which are expected to commence soon in the top court.

As a pilot scheme, the physical hearing of matters will initially begin only in three court rooms, the SOP said.

The court will take a call on how many lawyers and litigants will be permitted inside the court room, depending on the capacity of the court room and physical distancing norms, Hindustan Times reported. If there are multiple parties in a case, then only one advocate-on-record (filing counsel) and one arguing counsel per party will be allowed entry. Besides, one registered clerk per party will also be allowed to carry paper-books/journals etc. of lawyers into the court rooms.

The entry into the high security zone of the Supreme Court will be through daily “special hearing passes” which will be issued by the Registry. Proximity cards, which are normally used by lawyers to gain access to the high security zone, will continue to remain suspended.

Wearing of masks, frequent use of hand sanitizer and maintaining physical distancing norms are mandatory for all entrants into the Supreme Court premises.

Physical hearing of cases at the Supreme Court was suspended on March 23, after the outbreak of Covid-19. 

The apex court has been hearing cases via video conferencing since then. The top court had issued a circular on March 23 suspending entry of lawyers and litigants to the court premises and directing that only urgent cases will be taken up for hearing through video conferencing.

The video conferencing is conducted by the court through ‘Vidyo app’ which can be downloaded on mobile phones and desktops.

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