Hony. Secretary of the Allahabad High Court Bar Association, Prabha Shanker Mishra, has addressed a letter to the HC Chief Justice, urging him suspend the functioning of the High Court until proper arrangement for physical/ video conference hearings are made.
"Today, i.e., on July 22, 2020, I personally inspected the Video Conference facility made available by the High Court and the same is absolute chaotic. Advocates are experiencing a lot of trouble with this arrangement and they are not ready to work in this manner. The arrangement made by the HC prior to the VC cubicles was appropriate.
Your lordship is requested to either make proper arrangements for e-filing, Manual filing, Video Conferencing or Physical hearing, else it is impossible to work in the present state of affairs. Therefore, you are requested to suspend the functioning of the High Court, in view of the Covid crisis," the letter reads.
On May 30, 2020, the High Court had offered the facility of "VC Cubicles" and "eSewa Kendras", i.e. onsite and offsite Video conferencing facility, to enable those Advocates to appear before the High Court who do not have internet access or other technological infrastructure.
Through his letter, Mr. Mishra has highlighted that the arrangements at these facilities are not adequate and has therefore urged that the functioning be suspended.
Significantly, the Allahabad High Court has remained closed since July 14 until July 21, due to rapid surge in the number of active Corona Virus cases in the city. The functioning has only been restored today.
In addition to this, the President of the HCBA, Senior Advocate Amarendra Nath Singh, has also, by way of a separate letter, ventilated the Advocates grievances wrt the "impractical" system of e-filing.
"I would most humbly state that 99% of the lawyers of the Allahabad High Court are not technically trained for e-filing of cases due to which the said system of only e-filing is further damaging the damaged livelihood prospects of the lawyers, who are on the brink of starvation.
… It is also not very clear as to how the counter and rejoinder affidavits in the presently listed cases are to be exchanged which is also causing a lot of confusion and hardship," the letter reads.
He has expressed the difficulty in holding online arguments through VC hearings, while reiterating the plight of VC cubicles, and has thus urged the Court to restore the system of physical hearings, with enforcement of social distancing norms.
"The System as developed by this Hon'ble High Court for online arguments by sending link as well as creation of cubicles is also not serving the purpose hence it is a most humble submission the previous system together with the present may be continued wherein the lawyer could manually as well as e-file the cases, it could very well be possible to sanitize the manually filed cases before they are sent for hearing before the Hon'ble Court," he has urged.
Another important aspect raised in the letter is that due to closure of photo-affidavit center, there is no income to the High Court Bar-association which is unable to pay the salaries of its employees. Hence the President has prayed that the previous system of manual filing, together with e-filing and e-hearing may be continued.
Click Here To Download Secretary's Letter
Click Here To Download President's Letter