New Delhi: The Supreme Court, on July 22, ruled out the possibility of conducting physical hearings for now due to the persisting COVID-19 pandemic and said a 7-judge panel will review the situation after four weeks.

The apex court has been holding courts through video conferencing since March 25 due to the nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) and has decided to continue with the hearing through virtual courts till further orders even after the lifting of restrictions.

A bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde and Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian said that the 7-judge committee of the apex court headed by Justice NV Ramana would consider after four weeks the aspect of re-starting physical hearing in the top court.

The CJI's observation came when a lawyer sought resumption of physical court hearing to deal with a batch of petitions relating to grant of quota in promotions to SC/ST employees in various states.

The bench said the judges’ panel would examine as to what kind of hearing can be allowed to take place. Earlier, the panel, in the second week of June, had not agreed to the demands of bar bodies including SCBA to resume regular courtroom hearings for the time being and had said that it would review later the functioning of the Supreme Court keeping in mind the pandemic situation.

The committee had considered the representations of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) and the Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association (SCAORA) and had held that it was not in favour of resumption of open court hearings till June last.

Favouring resumption of open courts, the SCBA had also said, “Administration of justice cannot remain virtually closed for an indefinite period”.

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