The Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association (SCAORA) has made a representation to the Supreme Court Secretary General asking for various recommendations made by Advocates on Record and other members of the Bar to be implemented.
The letter, signed by SCAORA Secretary, Joseph Aristotle, lays out a number of suggestions that have been made with respect to issues being faced by lawyers with respect to Helpline numbers, e-filings, Virtual Courts, and also the functioning of the Court's Registry.
Through this representation, the S-G has been urged to take immediate action to ensure smoother functioning of the system.
It has been urged that a separate and dedicated helpline and email ID be provided to specifically address issues regarding filings and listings amongst other processes to ease the assist advocates in the prevalent system.
SCAORA further seeks the provision of a helpline and email address where grievances regarding technical issues could be redressed. This request pertains to non-response from contact details on mentionings and technical support that have already been provided by the Supreme Court.
SCAORA has sought for matters to be listed in an efficient manner wherein urgent matters must be listed, and defects must be notified and listed post curing, within a certain time frame.
It is also urged that a more effective mechanism be put in place with respect to circulation of letters to judges, circulation of certified copies, timely updates about the cause list, and other procedural issues faced by advocates on a daily basis. The suggestions include:-
"1. To frame a time limit for listing of the urgent matters from the date of mentioning and prompt action on listing of the same.
2. To frame a time limit for marking of defects and listing from the date of the curing of defects.
3. To frame an organized mechanism for circulation of letters with a provision to send a copy to the email id of the concerned Hon'ble Judge, as in most of the matters; the letters are not communicated to the Hon'ble Judges by the registry. The circulation of letter should be acknowledged with proof.
4. Mechanisms to apply for certified copy online and optionally the certified copy can also be sent vide post to the correspondence address of the AOR (at the expense of the respective AORs).
5. Procedures to apply for deletion of matters- in the proposed list vide circular dt. 22.05.2020.
6. Timely update of names in the cause list (especially with regard to caveats, fresh vakalats, etc), to enable- the AORs to procure the links for VC on time.
7. With regard to any matter filed before 188.8.131.520., the registry should not insist on A4 size paper and printing/photocopy on back to back. Further the said files may be permitted to be refilled as per the prevailing system.
8. Negligible defects should not be raised by the registry.
9. Clarify vide a circular that the condonation of delay for refiling should be accordance with the order dated 23.03.2020 in SM WP (C) No.3/2020.
10. Not to insist for filing of limitation report on green sheet."
The numbering, acknowledgement, a timeline for the same and a streamlined mechanism regarding court fee and other procedural requirements have been requested for. Suggestions made to this end are as follows:-
"1. To ensure that a diary number is provided promptly on Efiling.
2. Every document filed vide e-ftling has to be acknowledged vide a specific reference number.
3. Every I. A. filed has to be numbered, within a specified period.
4. Organised mechanism for filing of process, as presently the charges for process are not being calculated in accordance to the cause title of the matter.
5. A separate receipt for court fees to be generated immediately upon every payment made vide e-filing.
6. To permit RuPay Card and UPI mode of payment for court fee and other related payments.
7. To provide a separate window for refiling on the dash board of efiling.
8. Annexure may be permitted to be scanned and filed and typed copies to be insisted only when the scanned copies are illegible.
9. To ensure that all documents filed vide e filings are placed timely in the paper books of the Hon'ble Judges., and publish office reports accordingly."
REGARDING VIRTUAL COURTS
Stating that the links available currently might not be enough, SCAORA has urged the Supreme Court to provide additional links for Virtual hearings.
Not only do limited links reduce the scope for AORs appearing, the current system is also not recording appearances satisfactorily contends SCOARA. In this light it is urged that the appearances ought to be recorded in full, as per emails sent.
Additionally it is also stated that lawyers should be allowed to stay on at least till the orders in their cases are pronounced. It is apprised that currently they get disconnected before the order, which should not happen.
Notably, it has also been requested that oral mentionings may be allowed before a presiding judge telephonically in matters of great urgency.
The comprehensive list of suggestions in this regard is as follows:-
"1. A separate and specific circular/notification be issued with regard to the terms for availing the facility for video conferencing in the Supreme Court premises.
2. To inform the Bar the date of commencement of the automated links for VC vide the email id and mobile numbers of the concerned AO Rs.
3. An additional link of appearance be provided to the Advocate On Record, in addition to the presently available two links of Appearance.
4. To ensure that the VC is not locked for the access of AORs who have matter in a particular VC, till the end of the board as the concerned AOR:s who are disconnected due to technical glitches are not able4o join back th-e VC.
5. To ensure that the concerned AOR's have-proper access to the video and audio in VC .and not disconnect the same till the - orders are pronounced and the next matter is called by the Hon 'hie Court.
6. To ensure and record appearances completely as emailed by the AOR. At present the appearances are not entered properly, inspite of emails and entries in the whatsapp group formed for links of VC.
7. The helpline number 1881 should be exclusively dedicated only for technical glitches as 1881 is the dedicated helpline constituted as per Para 6 (iv) of the Order dated 06.04.2020 in Suo Motto W.P (C) 5/2020 - In Re- Guidelines for court functioning through video conferencing during covid 19.
8. Further to delete the note that reads as "[ LD. ADVOCATES-ON-RECORD ARE REQUESTED NOT TO SHARE VIDEO CONFERENCING LINK WITH ANYBODY. SHARING OF LINK WILL DEACTIVATE THE ORIGINAL LINK SHARED WITH ADVOCATE-ONRECORD ON HIS E-MAIL.]" in the cause list as sharing/forwarding of links is now advised by the registry, in the whatsapp group created for links to VC.
9. To restore the prior practice, that in case the mentioning/application praying for listing on grounds of extreme urgency is not allowed by the competent authority, the AOR would be permitted to make oral mentioning before the Hon'ble Presiding Judge, over the landline phone at His Lordship's residential office, in the timings fixed by the competent authority and if upon such mentioning, the matter is allowed, the same could be listed as per the directions of the Hon'ble Judge.
10. To state specific timings of the sitting of the Hon 'ble Single Judge as in virtual courts the AORs cannot be communicated as to what time the normal court of the Hon'ble Bench be over."