By Padmakshi Sharma
The Supreme Court, while mandating hybrid hearings in all High Courts across the country, expressed its concern over the absence of uniform Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in High Courts, highlighting the need for a clear and consistent approach to electronic access for hearings. The bench comprising Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, Justice J.B. Pardiwala and Justice Manoj Misra also criticised the existence of age-based restrictions in the current SOPs which permit hybrid mode hearings only for advocates and parties-in-person aged 65 or above.
Inconsistent Access to Electronic Hearings
In its order, the Supreme Court noted that many High Courts lacked standardized SOPs for accessing electronic modes of hearing, leading to confusion and inconsistencies. It was observed that in certain cases, litigants and lawyers were required to submit applications for electronic access well in advance, sometimes up to three days before the scheduled hearing. This practice, as per the court’s opinion, created unnecessary barriers and hindered swift access to justice. The court stated–
“In most High Courts, the problem is compounded by the absence of a uniform SOP which brings clarity to the manner in which access to the electronic mode of hearing can be obtained. An application for electronic access has to be submitted well in advance, in certain cases, three days before the date of commencement of the hearing.”
This story was originally published in livelaw.in. Read the full story here