Both these provisions are stipulated in the standard operating procedures ( SOP) framed upon the administrative orders of the Chief Justice for augmenting the physical hearing of matters in the Patna high court and operational since February 21.
A single bench of Justice Chakradhari Sharan Singh, while hearing an anticipatory bail plea of one Rajesh Kumar on Thursday, expressed displeasure over the continuance of the said SOP, which in the opinion of the bench, is mainly operating “on paper” as most of the stipulations have become redundant due to return of normalcy with the waning of Covid-19 pandemic.
The court observed that sustenance of the said two provisions till date as framed on the administrative orders of Chief Justice Sanjay Karol, “goes against the justice delivery system at large” and directed the registrar general to put forth the entire SOP to be re-looked by the Chief Justice while functioning as administrative head.
As regards restriction on the entry of litigants, Justice Singh said, “Right to public access to the court proceedings is an essential requirement of an open court proceedings unless the same is required to be restricted imminently and necessarily in the interest of justice or in public interest.”
So far live streaming of the court proceedings is concerned, the same was initiated for a few courts and at present there is no live streaming of any court proceeding and the same is completely shut for litigants and public.
Regarding online hearing conducted every Friday, Justice Singh observed that most of the cases get adjourned for physical hearing only and every Friday such online hearing barely lasts for an hour or two, causing “wastage of judicial time”.
The bench shared its own experience that when he had made a polite request to the Chief Justice for doing away with online hearing system on every Friday, the same was outrightly declined sans any discussion in that regard.
The high court opined that either the SOP be followed strictly or the same may be revisited in view of the prevalent situation, keeping in mind the larger interest of justice delivery system.