New Delhi: The Standard Operating Procedure (SOPs) adopted by the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) for filing of cases during the COVID-19 pandemic has been causing hardships for many advocates.
The Court had issued a Standard Operating Procedure for filing, mentioning and hearing of cases through video conferencing in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown.
However, some Advocates have been facing difficulties in adapting to the procedure mentioned, specially the filing of mentioning applications. Many advocates are finding the filing process very challenging and tedious.
According to the Standard Operating Procedure, the mentioning application has to first be submitted by e-mail at the email address of the NCLAT registrar. If the mentioning application is allowed, the Advocate can file the Appeal/Interlocutory application in hard copy as per procedure prescribed under NCLAT Rules. After curing all the defects, the cases would be enlisted in the cause list to be published on the NCLAT website. The court fee shall be paid through Bharat Kosh.
India Legal has been contacted by various lawyers who shared their experience regarding troubles while going through the said procedure.
The SOP adopted by the NCLAT which gives discretion to the Acting Chairperson Justice Bansi Lal Bhat of listing matters on pick and choose basis. The unsuccessful applicant does not have any other remedy under the aforesaid SOP.
According to present rule of the Tribunal, it empowers the Registry to decline any application for listing without judicial order of the Tribunal. There is no rule under which registry can refuse to receive and register an application. By above mentioned SOP the Tribunal, somehow violating the right to access to justice guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India
The standard operating procedure as given by the Tribunal hasn’t mentioned the recourse in cases where the mentioning application for filing of appeal is declined by the registry. A proper procedure is cardinal in a legal system to ensure that justice can be accessed everyone equally and fundamental rights under Article 14 and Article 21 of the Indian Constitution are well protected.
-India Legal Bureau