On Saturday, Chief Justice of India (CJI) NV Ramana announced that, in order to ensure that the Supreme Court remains accessible to lawyers from across the country, he has decided to continue online hearings on miscellaneous days, such as Mondays and Fridays, after consulting with his brother and sister judges on the bench.
Even though the Supreme Court will resume actual sessions on April 4, 2022, plaintiffs and lawyers will still be able to present virtually for their cases, according to the CJI.
Senior Advocate P Wilson, who is also a Member of Parliament, has presented a private members bill to establish regional Supreme Court benches, according to the CJI.
“I am not aware if Centre has expressed its view on the subject but in the same spirit of accessibility, in consultation with my brother and sister judges of Supreme Court continued the hearing online on miscellaneous days,“ the CJI said.
Lawyers can seek authorization from the court and present online even on non-miscellaneous days (Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays), he noted.
“On non-miscellaneous days advocates can still take permission of the court to appear online and thus enabled advocates from all over the country to continue their practice before the Supreme Court. I hope this practice will continue in the future also,” he said.
With the backing of the Bar Council of India and state bar organizations, CJI Ramana expects that the procedure that was adopted in the face of the Covid-19 outbreak will become the standard in the future. He also claimed to have discussed the matter with Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju.
The Chief Justice was speaking at a ceremony to lay the foundation stone for the Administrative Block of the Madras High Court and to inaugurate court structures in Namakkal and Villupuram districts.
He also stressed the significance of ensuring that all classes and sections of society are represented in all aspects of the judiciary and legal profession.
“Inclusivity is one of the most important aspects of Indianisation. Representations of all classes and sections in this profession will be benefitted. I have been a strong proponent of representation of women in all spheres of this profession“
However, he believes that women’s representation alone will not be enough, as socio-geographical diversity must also be reflected in the judiciary.
“Inclusivity does not stop with the only representation of women. The social and geographical diversity must find reflection in all levels of the judiciary and people would feel it is their own judiciary,” the CJI opined.
He went on to explain how judges from marginalized or rural regions may have a greater understanding of the challenges that litigants from similar backgrounds experience.
The CJI stated, that everyone has a say in the system, and they make up a significant portion of it. We long for the day when people’s gender, orientation, birthplace, or identity will no longer be a barrier. He then went on to discuss the geographical and linguistic barriers that both plaintiffs and lawyers confront and suggested that keeping the hybrid hearing system in place for the time being would assist address the problem.