The Karnataka High Court has directed the Registrar General to file a suo-motu public interest litigation to address various legal and technical issues that would arise before the district and trial courts from June 1, when they start 'limited functioning' as per the Standard Operating Procedure issued by the High Court.
A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Suraj Govindaraj said "Several such issues will arise which will have to be dealt with especially when it will take a long time to resume normal functioning of all the District and Trial courts in the State. We, therefore, direct the Registrar General to file a suo-motu writ petition in the form of a public interest litigation raising the aforesaid issues and seeking necessary directions from this Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India."
The bench gave examples of issues that would arise before the courts during the limited functioning. It said "One such issue will be insistence by the Courts of Judicial Magistrates for personal presence of the complainants at the time of filing of the complaints under Section 200 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (for short 'Cr.P.C') and especially, private complaints for the offence punishable under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881. Similar issues will arise about the personal presence of the parties at the time of presentation of matrimonial petitions."
It added "Another issue the court cited was whether video conferencing hearings can be conducted for framing of charge and for recording of plea. The other issue which is very relevant in the present day context is of conduct of remand proceedings through video conferencing. After COVID-19, regular Lok-Adalat could not be conducted. Therefore, the issue is whether Lok-Adalat can be conducted through video conferencing. Though confidentiality is attached to the mediation/conciliation meetings, the issue is whether by adopting all possible safety measures, mediation/conciliation meetings can be held through video conferencing hearing."
The court has asked the Registry to implead the State of Karnataka, the Union of India, the Karnataka State Bar Council and the Karnataka State Legal Services Authority as parties to the petition for the time being. It had requested Senior Advocates Uday Holla and C.V. Nagesh, to appear as Amicus Curiae for assisting the Court. The court will hear the petition on June 1.
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