“Normalcy has to return and courts have to function physically” : Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Friday said that normalcy has to return and courts have to function physically as virtual hearing of cases can’t become a norm. The hybrid mode of hearing cases is not working it said.

A bench comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao and B R Gavai said- “Sitting here in the court and looking at the screens is not giving us happiness.”

The bench said it wants the courts to open for the public and justice accessible for all the citizens. “We have tried hybrid mode, it’s not working. People are not coming to the courts. Normalcy has to return and the courts have to function physically,” it said.

A plea filed by NGO National Federation of Societies for Fast Justice and eminent citizens like Julio Ribeiro, Shailesh R Gandhi, seeking to declare virtual court hearing as a fundamental right for the litigants. The top court issued notice in this matter.

At the outset, senior advocate Monoj Swarup, appearing for the petitioners, submitted that hybrid mode be kept open as a part for access to justice for all citizens.The bench said, “Have you seen the standard operating procedure (SOP) issued by us (SC) last night? We have to set aside the SOP then.”

The bench asked the petitioners to submit the suggestions and said it would consider on the next date after four weeks as to how this can be taken up.

Manoj Swarup said this petition is on behalf of citizens who are coming to the court. The bench said that these distinguished citizens should be told about fundamental principles of open court and open justice.

“We want the courts to be open for the public and justice to be accessible. There are provisions in CrPC and IPC that justice should be open.

According to the Apex court, “For the past two months we have issued SOP s and made it optional. We have not seen one advocate in court on most of the days. Because if people have the option people are very comfortable in their offices.”