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BCI Writes To Kerala High Court To Hold Consultations With Bar, Review/Reconsider E-Filing Rules

Lydia Suzanne Thomas
18 May 2021 3:42 AM GMT
BCI Writes To Kerala High Court To Hold Consultations With Bar, Review/Reconsider E-Filing Rules
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The Bar Council of India (BCI) has written to the Kerala High Court Registrar General asking the Chief Justice of the Kerala High Court to reconsider/review the E-Filing Rules notified and have discussions with representatives of the State Bar Council before finalising the Rules.The response of the BCI comes after the Chairman of the Bar Council of Kerala, Advocate Joseph John voiced...

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The Bar Council of India (BCI) has written to the Kerala High Court Registrar General asking the Chief Justice of the Kerala High Court to reconsider/review the E-Filing Rules notified and have discussions with representatives of the State Bar Council before finalising the Rules.

The response of the BCI comes after the Chairman of the Bar Council of Kerala, Advocate Joseph John voiced reservations about the manner in which the Kerala High Court's E-Filing Rules were implemented, and the processes involved. The Bar Council had sought a deferral on implementation of the Rules for 3-6 months, and consultations on Rules with the Bar as well as Advocate Clerks.  

In its letter to the Registrar General of the Kerala High Court, the BCI Chairman Ashok Kumar Pandey writes "The Chairman of the State Bar Council appears to have raised very exhaustive and valid points and has highlighted the practical difficulties, which the lawyers and their staffs are likely to face due to the introduction of the new Rules with regard to e-filing."

In these circumstances, the BCI Chairman requests the Chief Justice of Kerala High Court to reconsider/review the E-filing Rules of the High Court and "to discuss and deliberate with the representatives of State Bar Council before finalising and notifying such rules."

"The patently arbitrary and hasty manner in which the e-filing rules was notified by the High Court on 12.5.2021 is blatantly whimsical, abrasive and prejudicial, affecting the interest of the entire lawyer community of more than 40,000 lawyers in Kerala", the Bar Council of Kerala Chairman's representation had stated.

While emphasizing the Council's support for electronic filing in so far as it makes the filing procedure more simple and convenient, the Bar Council of Kerala has expressed that the implementation of the Rules ought to have been after consultations with the Bar.

Implementation of the above e-filing rules would be practically impossible for lawyers' practising in remote areas of the state, since the rules mandate high level technological requirements and equipment that unfamiliar and alien to many lawyers. Describing the switch to e-filing as 'drastic', the Council has expressed that appropriate breathing space ought to have been provided, after giving training to the lawyers and ensuring appropriate infrastructure.

The Kerala High Court Advocates' Association and prominent lawyers' organisations have also expressed their reservations to the manner in which the Rules have been implemented. The Advocate General as well as the President of the Kerala High Court Advocates' Association met with the Kerala High Court Chief Justice on Monday to place before him concerns with respect to the e-filing Rules. The President iterated the Association's stance recommending filing through email for the present.

Over the weekend, the Association convened an extraordinary general body meeting to discuss the new e-filing rules. After the meeting on Saturday, the Association decided to protest the implementation of the e-filing rules. The General Body also resolved to abstain from all proceedings conducted by the High Court in connection with e-filing.

The Association again met on Sunday, deciding not to file any case under the E-filing system introduced under the Rules. It was also unanimously resolved that members would not associate in any manner with activities concerned with the implementation of the e-filing Rules notified.

On Monday, citing the absence of a favorable response from the High Court's Administrative Committee to the concerns raised by the Association, the Association decided to go ahead with the e-filing boycott.

At the same time, the meeting welcomed the move to allow physical filing. Every training program related to e - filing will be boycotted, it was resolved at the Extraordinary General Meeting held on Monday.

The Kerala High Court last week notified its Electronic Filing Rules For Courts (Kerala), 2021 (Rules) for Courts across the state.

The new rules prescribe e-filing for all cases in courts in Kerala. A person who is unable to access the e-filing portal is required to visit a 'designated counter', paying required fees. Files having a size greater than 10 MB will have to be filed at a designated counter.

The Rules provide that online electronic filing shall be done for the High Court at the High Court website or a portal assigned specifically for electronic filing by the Chief Justice. Online electronic filing shall be made either at the website of the Subordinate Courts or Tribunals or at the web portal created specifically for filing in the particular courts, it is stated. The Court is permitted to allow regular filing if all other methods fail.

Click here to download the letter


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