The Supreme Court is likely to take a call soon on whether it will resume physical hearing.
This was hinted in open court by Supreme Court judge, Justice Ashok Bhushan when hearing the case concerning reservation for Maratha caste under the Maharashtra State Reservation for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act.
“We intend not to begin hearing on January 25. We will keep the matter to pass directions after 2 weeks so that we know from when we start the physical hearing. We can fix a date (for final hearing) then,” the Court remarked.
The remarks were made after Senior Counsel Mukul Rohatgi appearing for the Maharashtra government urged the Court to conduct physical hearing for this case.
“We are finding it difficult to prepare for the case virtually with clients in Mumbai. There is an interim order against Maharashtra which is absolute. Please hold physical hearing,” he said.
The Court will now take up the matter on February 5 by which time there will be clarity on whether the Supreme Court will revert to physical functioning.
The top court has been functioning via video conference since March 23, 2020, when it shut due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The top court had issued a circular on March 23 suspending entry of lawyers and litigants to the court premises and directing that only urgent cases will be taken up for hearing through video conferencing.
The video conferencing is conducted by the court through ‘Vidyo app’ which can be downloaded on mobile phones and desktop.
The Court had attempted to resume physical hearing in September 2020 but with little success.
It had, in fact, modified the Court rooms and installed infrastructure to commence physical hearing in a limited way but the same was met with lukewarm response from the Bar.