The Supreme Court Monday revived its Modified Standard Operating Procedure and said all the matters listed on Wednesdays and Thursdays would be heard in the physical presence of lawyers and litigants in courtrooms only.
The decision has been taken in view of the significant decline in the number of COVID-19 cases and positivity rate.
The top court said it has decided to revive the Modified SOP notified on October 7, 2021, from February 14, 2022.
”In view of the significant decline in the number of COVID-19 cases and positivity rate, and in the light of the various instructions issued by the Delhi Disaster Management Authority, Government of NCT of Delhi vide Order dated February 4, 2022, the Chief Justice of India, in consultation with the Committee of Judges, has been pleased to direct that the Modified Standard Operating Procedure notified on October 7, 2021, for hearing before the Court shall stand revived, and all hearings before the Court from February 14, 2021, shall be in accordance with the said Modified Standard Operating Procedure notified on October 7, 2021,” a notice said.
The SOP dated October 7, 2021, had said all the matters listed on Tuesday, as a non-miscellaneous day, would also be heard in physical mode, however, on prior application by the AOR (advocate-on-record) for the party, appearance through video/teleconferencing mode will be facilitated.
It had said that unless directed by the court, all matters, irrespective of their nature, listed on miscellaneous days shall continue to be heard through video/teleconferencing mode till further orders.
The SOP had said if the bench is of the view that in a particular matter listed on non-miscellaneous days, the number of counsels is more than the working capacity of the courtroom, according to COVID-19 norms, the Registry will facilitate hearing of such matters through video/teleconferencing/hybrid mode.
In a matter listed for hearing through physical mode, one AOR or his nominee, one arguing counsel, and one junior counsel per party will be allowed entry into the courtroom, it had said.
It had further said that one registered clerk per party, as may be chosen by the AOR, shall also be allowed to carry paper books/journals, etc. up to the courtrooms.
”The entry of the counsels into the High-Security Zone to appear for hearing through physical mode will be through Proximity Cards/Photo entry passes and for the party in person through photo entry passes which will be issued by the Registry as per the practice followed before the onset of Covid-19 pandemic,” it said.
It had further clarified that the guidelines and protocols for prevention of COVID contagion, including wearing of masks, frequent use of hand sanitizer, and maintaining safe distancing norms are mandatory for all the entrants into the Supreme Court premises.