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[COVID-19 Lockdown] Video Conferencing hearings in Supreme Court should not become the "new normal" to replace open Court hearings: SCBA

In its resolution dated April 24, the SCBA has said that hearings through video conferencing should not become the "new normal" to replace open Court hearings once the present health crisis is resolved.

Shruti Mahajan

The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) has passed a resolution stating that open Court hearings in Supreme Court should be restored as soon as the health situation allows for it. Further, the SCBA has emphasised that video conferencing of hearings should be limited to the present period of crisis only.

In its resolution dated April 24, the SCBA has said that hearings through video conferencing should not become the "new normal" to replace open Court hearings. Virtual hearings, which are the need of the hour currently, shall be limited to this period of crisis only, it has been stated.

As soon as the lockdown is lifted and health condition in the country allows for it, open court hearings should be restored at the earliest, the SCBA's resolution says, citing the well-settled principles laid down by the Apex Court on the issue of open court hearings.

In this regard, the SCBA pointed out that the Supreme Court, in the cases of Naresh Shridhar Mirajkar v. State of Maharashtra of 1966 and Swapnil Tripathi v. Supreme Court of India of 2018 spoke of the importance of transparency when it comes to judicial proceedings, barring special classes of cases that require in-camera proceedings.

It would be in conformity with the settled principles laid down in these cases for open court proceedings to be restored at the earliest, the body underscores.

It is added that for the period of time when the hearings are required to be held through video conferencing, requisite arrangements should be made to introduce live streaming of these proceedings as far as possible in line with the Supreme Court's 2018 judgment.

"Once the Lockdown is lifted and once the Ministry of Health permits,the Open Court Hearings should commence with Social Distancing and crowd management measures being made mandatory inside the Court premises, and live streaming as well as daily transcription of court proceedings be continued along."
SCBA's resolution says

Read the resolution:

SCBA RESOLUTION ON OPEN COURT HEARINGS.pdf
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