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“Hope There Are No More Covid Waves”: Chief Justice On Reopening Courts

Senior counsels and most advocates do not prefer complete reopening, Chief Justice Ramana said

New Delhi:

Chief Justice of India NV Ramana today hoped to fully resume offline, physical hearings after the Dussehra break if the country is not hit by another wave of the coronavirus.

Treading with caution, the Chief Justice said that officials do not “want to take any risk because of the medical advice”.

Addressing women advocates of the Supreme Court who had held a felicitation ceremony for him and the nine new judges of the top court, Chief Justice Ramana said, “We are ready to reopen courts even in the pandemic time. But the majority of the advocates and several senior counsels do not prefer full physical reopening.”

“The younger advocates are willing to come in. But the problem is we don’t want to take any risk because of the medical advice,” Chief Justice Ramana said, adding, “Keep in mind that judges have no problem in physical reopening because, after all, we are in elevated places (in the courtroom) with glass separations. The problem is with the lawyers and other staff in the courtroom.”

Some advocates have pointed out issues with the Standard Operating Procedures around physical reopening, he said, adding that he is trying to address their concerns.

“Suddenly people may say that you have opened the courts and third and fourth waves are coming. So let us hope that there are no waves and shortly after the Dussehra break we may probably have physical reopening,” he said.

Courts in the country were shut down in March 2020 to curb the spread of the coronavirus. As the situation improved, courts began hearing most cases online through videoconferencing. However, the important cases were heard by the judges in person.

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