While hearing the matter [In Re Functioning of Courts in Bihar during the period of COVID-19, Pandemic] the Patna High Court on Wednesday (30th September) decided the parameters for e-filing, physical filing, listing and hearing in consonance with all the stakeholders.
The Full bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Karol, Justice Dinesh Kumar Singh and Justice Hemant Kumar Srivastava took into consideration suggestions given by Advocates' Association, Lawyers' Association and Bar Association of Patna High Court.
It may be noted that in pursuance of the order dated 23.9.2020, all the three Associations clarified their stand with regard to the Court proceedings through physical mode, virtual mode as well as e-filing and physical filing.
Suggestions Given by the Bar Association
It further opined that the Court proceeding through physical mode should be started, firstly allowing those lawyers who are having difficulties in filing their cases through e-mode due to lack of infrastructure facilities.
A limited number of tokens be generated for physical filing. So far as ease of e-filing is concerned, there should be no mentioning for the bail matters and the listing should be as per seriatim of their uploading on the High Court website.
The pending bail applications should be listed. The process of e-filing should be improved. The capacity of e-filing be increased to 50 MB per file with 300 dpi resolution.
Suggestions Given by the Lawyers' Association
The Lawyers' Association gave the suggestion for the resumption of 4-5 Courts in physical mode with the entry of ten advocates only. The entry of litigants and advocate's clerks will completely be prohibited and the small courtrooms should be used for a waiting room for the lawyers.
Suggestions Given by the Advocates' Association
the number of physical Courts should be determined by the High Court but the filing of all cases be accepted. The Court proceeding in physical mode should be on rotational basis like Delhi High Court.
The physical filing should be through drop boxes as is the practice adopted in Jharkhand High Court and Orissa High Court.
The stand of Additional Solicitor General of India (Patna)
The High Court should decide the date of resumption of physical filing, maximum fifty cases be listed in every bench, senior advocates should be allowed to be assisted by one junior advocate, and clients should be restricted from entering the courtrooms, government officials should not be called to the court, sanitization should be undertaken throughout the premises.
The cases filed between March and June, 2020 be processed and listed in chronological order of their filing. Stamp reporting should be done within one week of e-filing.
Notably, all the stakeholders unanimously agreed and suggested the parameters for e-filing, physical filing, listing and hearing, as follows:
(i) No mentioning in bail matters in any mode;
(ii) Processing of bail applications chronologically based on the date of filing and not mentioning;
(i) A maximum of 100 petitions per day be accepted through e-mode.
(i) For enabling such filing, an OTP shall be generated on a first-come-first basis. Not more than one token per day shall be issued in favour of the same AOR.
(ii) Physical filing be accepted only after a copy of the brief has been filed in the office of the Advocate General/Additional Solicitor General of India or other nominated counsel of the instrumentality of State;
(iii) An application shall be processed only if it is filed Patna High Court by an AOR, and subject to a maximum of two applications filed by him in a week through both modes taken together;
(iv) Defects in physical filing shall be removed only through physical mode and not by e-mode;
(v) A maximum of 100 petitions per day to be accepted through physical-mode;
(vi) All three Associations will collect the petitions to be filed by their lawyers and will keep them in the new Shatabdi Bhawan from where the Court Officer will have them collected every day between 12.00 noon and 12.30 P.M.
(vii) Physical filing will be accepted only if the petition is duly affidavited with court fee and stamp;
(viii) If a petition is filed both through e-mode and physical mode, it will not be processed;
(ix) A petition filed through either mode must contain a statement that it has not been filed by the other mode;
(x) Details of petitions validly filed will be uploaded on the website of the Court within 48 hours.
The Court was ready to consider the unanimous stand of the three Associations. However, the Court directed that the matter be placed tomorrow at 10.30 A.M. for further hearing with regard to the necessary infrastructure to be set up, and parameters with regard to sanitization and security measures to be set out, for the safe and smooth functioning of Court proceedings in physical mode.
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