In two different matters that came up for hearing in the Supreme Court, Justice L. Nageswara Rao has snapped upon the lawyers for demanding Open Court hearing during this pandemic.
Last year on July 12, the Supreme Court had issued a notice to the Maharashtra government on two petitions challenging the June 27 Bombay High Court verdict upholding the Maratha reservation. Justice Rao was hearing these pleas challenging Maratha reservation in jobs and educational institutions.
On first occasion, when Advocate Shivaji Jadhav argued that since documents ran into thousands of pages, virtual hearing was proving very difficult.
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On second occasion, another lawyer insisted upon open court hearing through regular system wherein he mentioned lawyers are not able to argue properly or are sometimes muted, or cut short.
“On one hand you want an urgent hearing. Then you say it is not possible and don’t want virtual courts too. When do you think Covid-19 will subside and regular courts will start? What is your estimate…At least we have no idea”. We started this system so that things keep going even during these times. If you don’t want this system, then let us close down virtual courts too”Justice Rao
However, the bench said it will go ahead with virtual court proceedings and commence day to day final hearing on petitions challenging 12% Maratha reservation in jobs and educational admissions in Maharashtra from July 27 through video conference.
The bench is hearing two appeals, one of which was filed by J Laxman Rao Patil, challenging the Bombay High Court order that upheld the constitutional validity of the quota for the Maratha community in education and government jobs in Maharashtra.
On June 27, 2019, Bombay High Court said that 50 per cent cap on total reservations imposed by the Supreme Court could be exceeded under exceptional circumstances.
Petitioners however said that such reservations can only be brought up by the Union Government and not the State government. They argued that such a reservation will require a constitutional amendment.