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Supreme Court Shifts To Virtual Hearings For Two Weeks Amid Omicron Scare

In its circular dated January 2, 2022, the Supreme Court noted that all physical hearings (with hybrid option) before the court will remain suspended.

Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court on Sunday announced that it was shifting back to the virtual system of hearings from January 3 for two weeks in view of rising COVID-19 cases. In its circular dated January 2, 2022, the top court noted that all physical hearings (with hybrid option) before the court will remain suspended for the present. From January 3, all hearings will be conducted virtually for a period of two weeks amid the Omicron scare. 

"It is hereby notified for the information of the members of the bar, party-in-person and all concerned that keeping in view the rising number of cases of Omicron variant (COVID-19), the competent authority has been pleased to direct that modified Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) notified on 07.10.2021 for physical hearing (with hybrid option) before hon'ble courts will remain suspended for the present, and all hearings before the hon'ble courts for a period of two weeks from and with effect from 03.10.2022 shall be through virtual mode only," the notice read.

SC's hybrid hearing system

In August, the SC had allowed hybrid (physical and virtual) hearings for interested lawyers/litigants. Under the standard operating procedure (SOP), three lawyers per party were allowed to appear before the judges. The entry into the high-security zone of the Court was allowed by way of proximity cards that have been issued to advocates practising in the apex court. Each party involved was told to have one clerk for carrying the files, books, and law journals to the court. Moreover, it also stated that the judge presiding in a courtroom could decide to conduct a certain case through video/teleconferencing/hybrid mode if he/she felt the number of lawyers was more than the working capacity of the courtroom as per COVID-19 norms.

On October 20, the SC had resumed physical hearing of cases, two days a week. In a release, the top court informed that the physical hearings will be held on every Wednesday and Thursday while continuing the earlier set up of hybrid hearings on Tuesdays. Case hearings on Mondays and Fridays will remain strictly through videoconferencing/teleconferencing. 

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