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Lawyers' Chambers in Supreme Court premises open for access to Advocates

Bar & Bench

Almost two months after the physical entry inside the Supreme Court premises was restricted and lawyers' chambers were sealed, the Supreme Court will now open up the chambers in various blocks for advocates.

(Note: The chambers are open only for the Advocates to access and collect their essential documents and files.)

In a communication made to the members of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), the Acting Secretary, Advocate Rohit Pandey, has informed the members of the SCBA that the Secretary-General (S-G) of the Supreme Court has agreed to allow access to lawyers to their chambers in various blocks.

SCBA President, Senior Counsel Dushyant Dave informed the Secretary-General that on account of various matters listed before the Court on Monday, the Advocates are in need of important files and briefs from their chambers.

In the absence of these documents, the hearing in these cases would have to be adjourned, thereby wasting important judicial time. Therefore, a request was made on behalf of the members of the Bar for opening of the chambers.

The Secretary-General informed Dave that necessary instructions for granting access to the chambers have been issued to the concerned Registrar.

The Supreme Court authorities maintain that the chambers had not been rendered completely inaccessible for lawyers and in cases where advocates made requests to access their chambers briefly, the same was allowed. The movement inside the premises was monitored to ensure that the safety norms prescribed by the Centre in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic are followed.

In light of the request made by Dave, the concerned authorities are further instructed to ensure that the lawyers are not required to wait long durations for going to their chamber for the purpose of collecting briefs and files.

On March 23, on a decision taken by the Chief Justice of India, Justice SA Bobde, the Supreme Court premises was shut for physical entry.

The Supreme Court had not only decided to restrict physical entry inside the premises of the Court, but also to suspend all proximity cards and to seal lawyers' chambers. The lawyers were given a window of time to collect their essential briefs and documents before the chambers were to be sealed.

In the meanwhile, the hearings before the Supreme Court will continue to be held via video conferencing. In order to ensure more cases are heard by the Court, a higher number of Benches are expected to start convening.

The Court's functioning has also seen a dynamic change with the Summer vacation suspended and dress code for lawyers appearing before the Court relaxed, all in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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