The Supreme Court Bar Association is deeply concerned about the distress and hardship caused to litigants throughout the country on account of restricted functioning of the Courts including the Supreme Court of India since March 15, 2020, first on account of limited Court functioning in the week following the Holi Recess and thereafter due to the nationwide lockdown, which necessitated very limited hearing of exceptionally urgent matters through video-conferencing and available virtual platforms. Hearings of all other cases which were listed during this period have been deferred.
The SCBA appreciates and fully supports the need for these restrictions, which were unavoidable in the unprecedented situation faced by all in the first phase of the lockdown.
However, now that the first phase of lockdown is drawing to an end on April 14, 2020, and there is a strong possibility of similar or varying restrictions continuing thereafter, the SCBA believes that it is time for the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India and the Companion Judges of the Supreme Court to take further proactive measures in order to mitigate the suffering and distress of the litigating public, and to put in place fresh measures for gradually restoring the full functioning of the Supreme Court.
As a first step, the SCBA resolves that all lawyers practicing in the Supreme Court will give up the summer vacation which is scheduled from May 16, 2020 till July 5, 2020, and make themselves available for work during that period, in order to make good the loss of court working days between March 15 and April 30, 2020, or any additional days that may be lost thereafter. Accordingly, the EC resolves to appeal to the Hon’ble the Chief Justice of India and his companion Hon’ble Judges to declare cancellation of Summer Vacation as per existing calendar and instead treat the entire period covered under the same as working of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in the larger interest of the Litigants and interest of Justice and request them to declare the same at the earliest.
The SCBA further resolves that until normal working of open courts can resume, the temporary video-conferencing facilities be immediately improved by adoption of live-streaming of court proceedings as mandated in Swapnil Tripathi VS. Supreme Court of India, (2018) 10 SCC 639, and by replacement of the existing VIDYO conferencing platform by a modern and efficient multi-user platform such as those provided inter alia by other well known companies or the interactive services being used by the Council of Ministers and officials of the Government on a daily basis. It is only if all contesting lawyers, instructing Advocates in Record, and litigants can have simultaneous access to the video-conferenced proceedings, that the same can become an effective system for conducting full-fledged court proceedings on par with those which our judicial system requires should normally be conducted in open courtrooms.
It is further resolved to request the President, SCBA to bring this resolution to the Hon’ble CJI, Supreme Court of India.