Standard Operating Procedure On Hybrid Hearing

Standard Operating Procedure On Hybrid Hearing

The Hon’ble SC on 23rd March 2021, Tuesday closed the proceedings in the writ petition filed by SCBA on the issue of the standard operating procedure (hereinafter referred to as “SOP”) formulated for the hybrid system of hearings. 

The Hon’ble SC while closing the proceedings also noted that the present matter cannot be dealt with on the judicial side of the Hon’ble court. The Hon’ble bench of Justices also recorded that the Coordination Committee had held meetings on February 3, February 4, and February 13, 2021, which was duly attended by the associates of the SCBA and the SCAORA, wherein the primary concern was shown and laid down on the preparation of the SOP. 

Necessary to mention that after the endorsements had been received, the numerous sides of a hybrid system were discussed. Likewise, the Committee considered all pertinent constituents, including the opinion of the medical experts, and determined that a hybrid system may commence from March 15, 2021; the Hon’ble court also mentioned that the SOP was only passed after a comprehensive discussion with the SCBA and the SCAORA. The Hon’ble court also stated that all the related material, including the recommendations, were placed before the Hon’ble CJI, and thereafter only SOP got published on March 5, 2021. 

Additionally, the Hon’ble SC bench also noted that in case of any grievances as to any part or term of the SOP, suggestions for modification of the same may be placed before the Committee so formed. The Hon’ble bench continued that the recorded suggestion of the SCBA President in the earlier meeting with the registry did not consider the perspective of the bar and their problems. 

“The Hon’ble court asked SCBA President if it is acceptable for him to made make any suggestions for modifications, which may be put up for discussion with the Registry. The SCBA President thereafter submits that the SCBA wishes to discuss the matter only with the Judges Committee. On this note there seems to be a deadlock on the issue and “the course suggested by the Committee is not acceptable to the bar” alleged the Hon’ble bench in its order. 

The Hon’ble bench while pronouncing the order also observed that “This is not a subject to be discussed under Article 32 of the Constitution of India. It relates to the administrative working of the court. We endeavoured to facilitate an interface. It is not acceptable to the bar. We are of the view that on the judicial side, nothing further can be done. Hence, we close these proceedings”.

Soon after the Hon’ble bench disposed off the proceedings, The petitioner mentioned before the Hon’ble court, “that the Hon’ble court in several matters held that an agitational path must not be adopted. The petitioner continued and said that “don’t blame us for what happens. If we can’t be heard, please don’t say anything later. Even affidavits cannot be called? Does the Supreme Court think it is above justice? Whatever they decide is to be final? We are very sorry that the Hon’ble Judges Committee cannot even reach us.” 

As the Hon’ble bench took up the matters about the Delhi HC and the district courts, the Hon’ble Supreme Court senior advocate sought to intervene on behalf of the SCBA and stated that “We wish to have a healthy dialogue. Our President got emotional. At the previous Committee meeting, there were differences between the 21 of us. After that, not even one single meeting was attended by anyone. Our President was not present even on February 13. Your Lordships may choose the person and we are ready to have a nice dialogue. As we are at the Hon’ble apex court and the country looks up to us”. 

The Hon’ble SC bench added that the Hon’ble bench has time and again asked the petitioner to not get ballistic. The Hon’ble bench also mentioned that “If a seven-judge committee chose not to hear someone, we can’t issue them a mandamus”. 

After the intense deliberations, the petitioner declared that “We will do whatever we do now. Let’s see where we go then. The Petitioner continued and stated that if the Hon’ble bench feels that the judges are above the law, we will have to take the law in our hands”. Furthermore, the petitioner made submissions concerning the Hon’ble trial courts/district courts state of affairs in terms of crowd gathering and its management. Lastly, the DHCBA President assured the petitioner that they would be given a personal hearing on WEBEX on the issues raised about crowd gathering and its management. 

While concluding the Hon’ble SC also detected that the issues concerning the quasi-judicial bodies will be dealt with by the administrative side of the HC of Delhi.