NEW DELHI: Ahead of commencement of experimental hybrid mode of hearing – a mix of physical and virtual mode – on Tuesday in the Supreme Court, as many as 18 of the 29 Judges have been vaccinated against Covid-19, the pandemic which shut the court for almost a year.
Of the 29 Judges, six of them were infected by coronavirus during the period when the courts conducted hearing of cases through video-conferencing mode since March 25, without the month-and-half long summer break, when the physical hearings were kept in abeyance to avoid congregation of lawyers and litigants.
“As many as 18 sitting Supreme Court Judges and 30 retired SC Judges have been vaccinated at the medical centre run by Central Government Health Services (CGHS) within the Supreme Court premises,” SC sources said. However, captain of the judiciary, CJI SA Bobde, is yet to take the vaccination.
The SCBA led by president Vikas Singh have been exerting pressure on the SC for resumption of physical hearing citing financial hardship to the young lawyers. In fact, the SCBA through joint secretary Rahul Kaushik has moved the SC seeking immediate resumption of full fledged physical hearing.
As against the demand, the SC and its committee of Judges decided to resume limited physical hearing while continuing with the video-conference mode of adjudicating the cases. It decided to continue with the virtual hearing mode on Monday and Fridays every week when fresh petitions are taken up for hearing, On Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursday the court decided to adopt hybrid mode of hearing.
On Tuesday only three benches led by CJI Bobde, and Justices R F Nariman and A M Khanwilkar listed old admitted matters for hearing through hybrid mode. While the CJI-led bench has five matters, including the turf tussle between Delhi government and Centre, for hybrid hearing, six old petitions are listed for hybrid mode hearing before the bench headed by Justice Nariman. The bench led by Justice Khanwilkar has five cases for hybrid hearing. All other nine benches will hear even old matters through video conferencing on Tuesday.
The registry had sought consent of advocates for physical hearing but a few only consented for it. Listing of a limited number of matters for hybrid mode of hearing on Tuesday would hurt the SCBA’s claim that the majority of advocates favoured resumption of full physical hearing.