The Madhya Pradesh High Court released guidelines for video conferencing and e-filing guidelines in view of the exigency caused by COVID-19, after the Supreme Court’s direction to High Courts to take measures to reduce the need for physical presence of people in the Courts.
The Supreme Court while taking suo motu cognizance of functioning of Courts through video conferencing, had directed the High Courts to take all measures to reduce the need for physical presence of stakeholders of judicial system within court premises and to secure the functioning of courts in consonance with social distancing guidelines.
The aim was also to let the courts function according to the best public health practices and adopt measures required to ensure the robust functioning of the judicial system through use of video conferencing technologies and determine ways to temporary transition to the use of video conferencing technologies consistent with the peculiarities of judicial system in the State.
The Madhya Pradesh High Court has laid down procedure for e-filing, in its attempt to evolve guidelines for filing urgent matters through electronic mode and to facilitate administration of justice ensuring social distancing in view of COVID-19 pandemic.
Urgent matters: Only urgent matters have to be filed stating the grounds of urgency for hearing the matter.
Filing through emails: These petitions have to be filed through the e-filing software available on the High Court’s website or by sending scanned soft copies of the petitions through email. The matters have to be submitted with a brief note on the case the grounds for why the petition needs urgent hearing.The email ids will be under the control of the Nodal officer authorized by the Chief Justice.
Required Documents: The following documents are mandatory in e-filing of petitions
- A brief note of the petition
- Authenticated Affidavit, self-verification if required.
- Status Reports, Reply, case diary required by Court
- Screenshot showing that E-mail containing soft copies of all relevant documents has been sent to intended email id.
- Information including: Full name of advocate and party, mobile numbers, email of the advocates and opposing party, and the Bar Council enrolment number, I.D. proofs, signature of lawyer on all pages of petitions.
- In case of non-payment of fee, the reasons for the same.
Steps to be taken Post Normal Functioning of Court starts: Once the normal functioning of the Court begins the following steps need to be taken:
- The required Court fees need to be paid.
- All the original documents to be filed by the parties.
Scrutiny of E-filed matters: The work of scrutiny of defects of e-filed petitions will be done the will be entrusted by Principal Registrar to staff and officials of the respective benches at Jabalpur, Indore and Gwalior. A list of the defects will be made and be intimated to the Advocates through reply email. The defects have to be removed by the Advocates which will then be processed through the Principal Registrars of the respective Benches.
- The matters are registered after the Chief Justice is satisfied that the matter requires urgent attention, and directs the Registry to list the matter. Softwares like Vidyo Cloud Meetings or nay other such software directed by the Court can be used for conducting hearing of cases through video conferencing. The link provided by the High Court has to be used by the advocates to join the video conferencing. The responsibility of appearing at the given time will be on the Advocate. On absence of an advocate at the given time due to any technical reasons, the matter may be adjourned.
- While appearing through video conferencing also, the advocates need to maintain the necessary decorum as maintained in Courts. They will be exempted from wearing robes and bands but they need to be properly dressed, and also need to keep their microphone on mute unless asked by the Bench to unmute.
- The Complaints regarding the quality of the video conferencing session has to be communicated during the proceeding or immediately after, as no complaints regarding the sane will be taken up.
Orders and Judgements:
The soft copy of the orders passed by the Court will be communicated to the Advocate and the party through email. The judicial orders are uploaded in the portals of the High Court and communicated to the Counsels through e-mail. In cases of bail, the order will also be communicated to the Judges and Magistrates and concerned Jail Superintendents through emails.
The Chief Justice of the High Court may issue any further guidelines and directions for smooth functioning of the hearings through video conferencing at the High Court on time to time basis.
-India Legal Bureau