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The Bar Council of India has written to the Chief Justice of India, Justice SA Bobde, urging him to issue directions to all courts in the country to re-start physical/open court hearing from June 1. (Letter to Chief Justice of India BCID-1399-2020)
In the letter to the CJI, BCI Chairman Manan Kumar Mishra has asserted that request reflected the consensual view and aspirations of advocates in the country.
Referring to the concerns of high rate of pendency, Mishra has claimed that since the courts are only hearing urgent or most urgent matters, only 10% of the cases qualify for being heard through virtual mode.
It further asserted that even this system of listing urgent matters on mentioning by an advocate was partial towards a “handful of privileged class of advocates”.
Although there are directions at the High Court and district courts level to list other matters for virtual hearing upon joint request, in an adversarial litigation where one party is generally interested in delaying the matter, parties cannot be expected to reach a mutual understanding to bring the case to an end, it is further apprehended.
Bar Council has also brought to the CJI’s attention to the condition of “95% advocates (who) are without any court work and court appearances” and thus, have no means to make both ends meet.
“The Bar Councils, with their limited resources have responded and done their bit to help such Advocates, most of whom are young and/or needy advocates, but this system can’t go on forlong as Bar Councils don’t get any State grant.”, its is stated.
Therefore, arguing that virtual courts cannot displace and replace traditional court system, Misra has requested the Chief Justice to re-start the system of physical hearings.
Bar Council of India has therefore sought a suitable scheme with guidelines to kick-start physical hearings before courts.
As a matter of suggestion, Mishra has called for restricted entry of advocates, time-slot hearings, strict compliance of social distancing norms etc while conducting physical hearings.
Virtual hearings may be held only as a matter of exception when both the sides mutually agree to it on account of travel complications, health concerns etc., it is added.
“..our request is to give a deep thought to the request of the Legal Fraternity of the country, and take appropriate decision.”, it is prayed.
Read the Letter: