The newly introduced filing conditions in the High Court of Kerala like restricting urgent filing up to 1 PM have caused a lot of grievance amongst advocates. The conditions, introduced by an Office Circular dated 01.03.2018, also do not permit curing of defects beyond 1 PM. Before the circular, a file could be re-presented on the same day after curing the defects for urgent listing on the next day. That option has been taken away by the circular, and special leave from the court is to be taken for urgent moving of a file after curing defects. This condition is extended to ‘today’ motion files as well.
The circular has not been received well by advocates and advocate clerks, who feel that the conditions are harsh and unworkable. The Kerala High Court Advocates’ Association has made a representation before the Chief Justice against the circular.
They opined that it is grossly unreasonable to deny urgent listing due to minor and easily curable defects. It is also their complaint that even if a case is presented for filing at 10 AM, the registry is not prompt in noting defects, and the defects are noted close to 1 PM, thereby denying an early opportunity for curing defects.
The circular is stated to have been issued with the objective of alleviating problems related to the issuance of certified copies of interim orders and judgments. However, the representation points out that there is no nexus between the delay in issuing certified copies and filing of defective files, as they are dealt with by two separate sections of the registry. So, the association wonders as to the purpose advanced by the circular.
The practice of registry noting trivial defects so as to deny urgent filing is also highlighted in the representation. “A case in point is that a defect of not noting the internal page no. of one particular exhibit in a writ petition alone was the reason which resulted in the writ petition being noted as defective. These are only minor defects that ought to have been permitted to be corrected immediately and the imposition of such unreasonable rules will only create a friction between the registry and the lawyers, advocates clerks and litigants alike,” the representation stated.
On Thursday, another notice was issued stating that if there is any complaint on the defects marked, as the same being trivial, then the advocate or clerk could approach the chambers of any of the judges who are part of the Committee for Computerization. It was also clarified in the notice that it will be only for supervisory purposes of the scrutiny staff and not for posting defective cases.
The association stated in the representation that the new conditions have caused a lot of confusion and inconvenience. It is also stated that the practice of registry in noting new detects after re-presentation of the file cannot be permitted, as all defects will have to be noted in one go. Also, the instances of stamp papers for the value of court fee getting lost from files are also highlighted, and the association demands the issuance of receipts by the registry for the value of stamp papers received as court fee.
The representation further bemoaned that cases are not getting posted despite filing urgent memos.
“When the Rule says that interlocutory applications when filed will be posted the day after tomorrow, it should be implemented in letter and spirit. So also it is equally important to note rule 93 of the Kerala High Court Rules which enables a litigant to get an early posting of his case has virtually become redundant,” the representation read.