Lawyers, who have been appearing in the Supreme Court’s virtual courts during the nationwide lockdown, say virtual courts were not working except to the extent that they can give interim relief in pressing matters at a time when lawyers and litigants cannot access courts. They are urging that they return to physical courts with adequate social distancing norms.
“Virtual courts are not working,” a lawyer who was patiently waiting to be heard on Wednesday said. “We have to come out anyway to appear before the virtual court,” he pointed out. “The top court is now assembling physically. We could be allowed to appear with adequate social distancing norms…There’s no reason why lawyers should be kept out of the courts.”
The SC could stagger the hearing of cases by hearing only one case at a time with a small gap in between to avoid crowds, he said. The court could also cap the number of lawyers appearing in a case, he said, to one advocate per litigating parties.
He pointed out at the number of technical glitches during a hearing to back his case for a return to the earlier actual court hearings. Sometimes a lawyer is invisible and sometimes inaudible, he said. On Wednesday, CJI SA Bobde called a lawyer in court an “invisible” lawyer. “You are here, but we cannot see you,” the CJI said. “You are there, but not there,” the CJI said in a lighter vein.
At times, the audio link snaps so that either the judges cannot hear the lawyer or the lawyer cannot hear the judges. At one point in the hearing, the audio link was so poor that one could barely hear senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi who’s known for his otherwise booming voice.
Most lawyers are seen concentrating on getting immediate relief by way of copycat orders passed in similar cases earlier or seeking adjournments till after the lockdown, that is May 31.