The Madras Bar Association on Wednesday wrote a letter to the High Court Chief Justice, highlighting various difficulties that are being faced by lawyers in the light of the present sitting and listing arrangements, and the modus of functioning of the Court as to hearing of cases.
Through notifications dated July 3, the Madras High Court had intimated that hearing at both its benches will be conducted via "through Video Conferencing only", starting from July 6.
In this backdrop, the Association has urged the High Court to consider the following requests, and do the needful in the interest of justice:
1. Final hearing cases may not be listed during the period of hearing through video conference.
The Association has informed the Court that listing of final hearing of cases during the present system of VC hearings is causing hardship to the Advocates.
"They are unable to effectively make the submissions due to the connectivity issues, inability to refer to original records and documents, inability to refer to precedents, etc. Most of Advocates were using the library facilities provided by the Association for the same. Now the premises are closed and there is also no access to the Law Chambers. Hence arguing final hearing cases through Video conference is not possible," the letter states.
Filing of hard copies
The High Court had issued an administrative order on July 4, instructing that apart from e-filing, the parties will have to file hard copies of their cases.
Expressing variance at this move, the Association wrote,
"…In case any defects are pointed out, another copy set has to be submitted after rectifying the defect. On every such occasion the hard copies will be processed only after a day. This procedural requirement is very cumbersome, time consuming and express the Advocate clerks and clients to the risks of pandemic, apart from huge expenditure."
The Association has pointed out that the present system of logging on to the VC hearing at the Principal Bench of the High Court is not "user-friendly" as it requires them to enter a long password, containing jumbled up numbers, small letters and capital letters.
It has suggested that the same should be made similar to passwords required to log into VC proceedings before the Madurai Bench, containing simple numerals.
The Association has urged the High Court to permit lawyers to access their Law Chambers between Monday to Saturday, subject to following safety protocols, as many of them have been functioning from their allocated Law Chambers only and have their bundles, computers, books, etc., in the Chambers.
The High Court has been requested not to pass any adverse orders against Advocates who are unable to appear during the VC hearing. Further, it is requested that if any Advocate is not able to argue their case due to lack of connectivity, non-availability of papers, lack of access to judgments, inability to get instructions from clients, inability to instruct seniors, etc., they may liberally be granted adjournment.
Inter alia, the Association has pointed out various difficulties relating to the system of E-filing and defects, delay in obtaining copies of orders, especially in matters involving personal liberty of individuals, and has urged the court to take prompt steps to ameliorate the same.
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