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COVID19: Chhattisgarh HC issued guidelines for E-mail Filing and Virtual Hearing

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The High Court of Chhattisgarh at Bilaspur today has issued several guidelines for E-mail filing and Virtual hearing during the lockdown period in the nation.

The Guidelines are issued for those who wish to present very urgent applications, for civil, criminal as well as writ and seek to do so only by Video Conferencing/Virtual Courts, i.e. without attending a court hall in person and accessing the proceeding from remote locations by a video link alone. It further stated that the facility for virtual hearing and filing through E-mail is only available for fresh cases and not for the existing one.

In continuation, the advocates who are filing only extreme urgent matters will mail it to the email id of the Registrar Judicial / Addl. Registrar (Judicial) along with the praecipe/brief of the case and the reason for taking up the matter urgently and the complete petition in soft copy along with other relevant documents duly scanned in PDF format filed through advocate, should be sent from email address of the advocate to Registrar(Judicial) and copy of the same to the office Advocate General accompanying a brief note explaining the extreme urgency. The matters will be placed before the Hon’ble the Chief Justice for His Lordship’s consideration by the Registrar Judicial/ Addl. Registrar Judicial after scrutinizing. After satisfying with the nature and urgency of the matter, Hon’ble the Chief Justice will direct the Registry to list the same before the Bench as decided by Hon’ble the Chief Justice. Once the matter is considered for hearing, the Advocate/Parties-in-person will be intimated through SMS about the details of the date and time slot allocated for hearing their matter through VC/Virtual Court.

It is informed through the guidelines that the E-mail will be open only on working hours and days as per the calendar of the High Court and the following details are required to be submitted along with the material papers such as advocate unique ID, Registered Mobile Number, E-Mail ID, Chhattisgarh High Court Bar Enrolment / registration number and  a soft copy of their Photo ID. Also, the pages of the petition will be signed by the party/authorized agent and also by the lawyer before being scanned. Annexure to the Petition will also be scanned in PDF format and sent along with petition. However, it is to be noticed that upon restoration of normal functioning of the Court, hard copies of the complete Petition as required under the Rules will be supplied. Thereafter, the Hon’ble the Chief Justice will nominate the Hon’ble Judge who will take up mentioning of extremely urgent matters through Video Conferencing between provided time slot on Court working days.

The High Court made it optional for payment of court fee and filing of affidavit by petitioner but subject to orders of court same will have to be furnished once the normal working of the High Court is restored. It further reiterated that an application has to be submitted with a prayer for exemption from filing duly affirmed affidavit(s) along with an undertaking to pay the court fee/deficit court fees which shall be deposited and submitted preferably within 72 hours from the date of resumption of the regular functioning of this court. The advocate will be responsible in emailing the praecipe to Registrar Judicial / Additional Registrar Judicial ALONG WITH a duly signed softcopy in PDF format of the matter and also ensures that the application/ petition/ pleading is of one volume of reasonable size without images.

According to the guidelines, the advocate must give an undertaking stating that the Advocate will submit a hard copy of the proceedings with the Registry immediately after the lockdown period; preferably within 72 hours, and that if the VC court refuses petition or does not grant relief, the applicant will not move the other extant benches by physical filing and that the extant benches has not refused circulation or declined relief. Therefore, the Registry will communicate the date and time slot for hearing through Video Conferencing and shall share the link of the Video Conference Room with the Advocates concerned/ both parties if the Hon’ble Judge allows the praecipe.

In conclusion, the court presented a software namely “Zoom Cloud Meeting App” in order to join the Video Conferencing, which the advocates can install on their Computer or Smartphone.

-India Legal Bureau

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