New Delhi:  The Supreme Court on Sunday decided to conduct all hearings in virtual mode for two weeks starting from January 3, in view of rising number of cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

The Supreme Court administration issued a circular announcing the decision on Sunday evening.

It stated that an earlier circular prescribing standard operating procedure (SOP) for physical hearing (hybrid hearing) will remain suspended for the time being.

“It is hereby notified for the information of the members of the bar, party-in-person and all concerned that keeping in view the rising number of cases of Omicron variant (COVID-19), the competent authority has been pleased to direct that modified Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) notified on October 7, 2021, for physical hearing (hybrid mode) will remain suspended for the present, and all hearings before the courts for a period of two weeks from and with effect from January 3, shall be through virtual mode only,” the circular read.

The top court is reopening on Monday after its winter vacation.

On October 7, 2021, it had issued an SOP stating matters that require lengthy hearings will be taken up on Wednesdays and Thursdays for physical hearing.

To avoid overcrowding on miscellaneous days like Mondays and Fridays, hearing of cases was done through virtual mode only, and on Tuesdays, it was through a hybrid mode.

The top court has been hearing cases through video-conferencing since March 2020 due to the pandemic. The October 7, 2021 SOP was issued after several bar bodies and lawyers demanded that physical hearings should be resumed immediately as there was a fall in coronavirus cases at that time.

Also read: Avoid mixing-up of vaccines: Health min to states on 15-18 age grp vaccination

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