The Secretary-General of the Supreme Court of India has issued a Circular, setting up a Helpline for the aid of Advocates-on-Record (AoRs) for mentioning and listing of urgent matters.
Supplementing previous Circulars dated 23rd March, 2020 and 26th March, 2020 as well as the Standard Operating Procedure for urgent hearing of matters through video conferencing, the Helpline seeks to answer the queries of AoRs appearing for the parties/Party-in-person with regard to mentioning and listing of extremely urgent matters, which have already been mentioned vide mails sent to [email protected]
There are two numbers which have been provided: 011-23381463 and 011-23111428.
One can access these numbers between 10.00 AM to 5.00 PM on weekdays (Monday to Friday), and 10.00 AM to 1.30 PM on Saturday. The number won't be functional on holidays and Sunday.
The Supreme Court Advocates On Record Association on Wednesday submitted a representation to Supreme Court requesting that the steps may be taken on an urgent and emergent basis so as to enable the lawyers/ Party-in-person to assist the CourtCourt effectively in the present situation i.e., the spread of COVID-19 and the need for social distancing.
Read the letter here
The Secretary General,
Supreme Court of India,
Considering the current situation and the newly implemented E-filing system brought into play, there are certain steps that the Supreme Court Advocate On Record Association deems as necessary for further effectiveness of the said system as mentioned below. It is requested that the said steps may be taken on an urgent and emergent basis so as to enable the lawyers/ Party-in-person to assist the Hon'ble Court effectively in the present situation i.e., the spread of COVID-19 and the need for social distancing.
a. Grievance cell/centre for Video Conferencing:- At present there does not seem to be any system in place for addressing any issue that a Lawyer/Party-in-person maybe facing due to any technical glitches that might arise in the Video Conferencing of matters. This Hon'ble Court has also considered the importance of having a grievance cell/centre for the same and has by judgment and order dated 06.04.2020 in Suo Motu W.P. (C) No. 5/2020 directed the Courts to maintain a Helpline to ensure that any complaint in regard to the quality or audibility of feed shall be communicated during the proceeding or immediately after its conclusion. A copy of the order of this Hon'ble Court dated 06.04.2020 in Suo Motu W.P. (C) No. 5/2020 is attached herein and annexed as Annexure 1.
In view of the aforementioned direction of this Hon'ble Court, it is requested that a Grievance cell/centre or Redressal system or helpline be created on an urgent basis so as to provide the Lawyer/Party-in-person a system to file the complaints relating to the Video Conferencing and be able to assist this Hon'ble Court effectively. Further, till the time that a proper system for Grievance/Redressal is set up, it is requested that the contact details of one of the Registrars/Authorised officer to deal with the issues relating to Video-Conferencing be made available on the official website of the Hon'ble Court on an urgent basis.
b. Links for Video-Conferencing- In continuation of the need for the aforementioned Grievance cell/centre or Redressal system or helpline, an issue which has been persistently arising is the complaint of the non-functioning of the link that is provided for Video-Conferencing. It is thereby requested that steps may also be taken to provide for effective links to all the counsels whose names get reflected in the cause list for that particular matter.
c. Helpline portal for Listing and E-filing:- In addition to the Grievance cell/centre or Redressal system or helpline for Video-Conferencing, it is also pertinent to have a helpline portal for issues that arise in E-filing (IT relating, procedure relating etc.) and subsequently listing of the matters filed. While the Hon'ble Court has by notifications dated 23.03.2020 and 26.03.2020 provided a mechanism for urgent listing, in some cases there also arise issues other than listing and there does not seem to be any other redressal system in place to address the said issued. As such, it is requested that steps may also be taken to set up a redressal mechanism for issues pertaining to E-fling and listing. Further, till the time that a proper system for Grievance/Redressal is set up, it is requested that the contact details of one of the Registrars/Authorised officer to deal with the issued relating to E-filing/listing and other related matters be made available on the official website of the Hon'ble Court on an urgent basis.
d. Service of document- During the unprecedented times like this, it is urged that for effecting service of documents upon the counsel, especially the Standing Counsel of States and Union, a list containing the contact details of the AOR's for the States and Union be made available on the official website of the Supreme Court. Further, since steps have to be taken for social-distancing, a service made through electronic mediums (emails, whatsapp's etc) may be deemed to be effective service upon the counsels during this time.
e. Option for filing Caveat through E-filing- At present there does not seem to be an option available for filing fresh caveats through E-filing on the official website of the Supreme Court. As such, it is requested that steps may be taken for providing option of filing caveats similar to that of other documents through E-filing before the Hon'ble Supreme Court during this time.
f. Provision of display board- It is also requested that there ought to be a provision for electronic display board, similar to the electronic display board that is already available on the official website of the Supreme Court which is used at the time of the normal functioning of the Courts. The same is necessary for the Lawyers/Party-in-person in order to remain ready for the hearing of the matter on a particular day.
It is most humbly requested that immediate steps may be taken to look into the aforementioned issues being faced by the lawyers on a day to day basis concerning various issues ranging from filing, listing to hearing of the matters. As specified above, as the current system of E-filing and listing is relatively new and getting progressing each day, it is crucial that the aforementioned steps be taken on an urgent basis for effective hearings and assistance by lawyers to the Hon'ble Court at this time.
Read the Circular Here