GHCAA President Yatin Oza
GHCAA President Yatin Oza

[COVID-19 Lockdown] Commence full-fledged functioning of Gujarat High Court through video conferencing: GHCAA President urges Chief Justice

Concern has also been raised over a circular mandating the circulation of a note on the urgency involved in a plea and the Court's satisfaction qua the urgency cited before the case can be registered.

Bar & Bench

President of the Gujarat High Court Advocates' Association (GHCAA) Yatin Oza has written to Chief Justice Vikram Nath urging that the Court starts functioning in a full fledged manner through video conferencing, rather than confining the hearing urgent matters alone.

"I find no logic or reason to restrict the working only to hear urgent matters and that too after such a rigorous procedure to be followed for getting the matters listed. My request to your Lordship is to start the functioning of the court full-fledged via video conferencing and all the matters whether new or pending be taken up for hearing."
Yatin Oza

This development comes after the High Court issued a circular on Saturday intimating that for cases moved during the COVID-19 lockdown, a note on the urgency involved must first be circulated to be placed before the Chief Justice or another nominated judge.

If the concerned judge is satisfied that an urgency exists, the Registry would then intimate the lawyer. The direction was issued citing the limited strength of Registry officials available during the lockdown, relative to the number of petitions being moved during the lockdown, including those found to not be urgent in nature.

Read the Circular dated May 1:

Urgent_Note_Filing_Circular 01052020.pdf

Oza's letter, however, highlights that the Court Registry itself has goofed up in more than one occasion. Apart from two instances cited in his letter, Oza says that, "There are more than 50 such instances where my attention has been drawn by different advocates."

Recounting how the judicial system, including the listing of cases, is stated to have operated in earlier times, Oza emphasises that "Circulation was not a prerogative of the Registry-it was a procedure and not a hindrance in the pathway to justice."

In this regard, he also recounts more faith was extended to the presenting lawyers on the question of whether urgency was involved in a particular case or note. Hig letter notes, "The judges used to tell their court masters to believe in the urgency of the matter if the Advocate felt so. In extraordinarily urgent cases, the modalities were completely given a go by."

Amid many such accounts cited, Oza also recounts that,

"In an extraordinary urgent case, Justice D. A. Desai once passed an order at 2:00 am in the morning and told the court master to give the writ to the advocate for direct service and obtain his signature on the next date ...To those who had witnessed and lived such an era, it is difficult to see the situation as it prevailing today.”

Yatin Oza

In particular, Oza highlights that the present confusion as regards the listing of urgent cases is particularly disadvantageous to those suffering incarceration.

In this respect, he also details historical instances where judges have acted to ensure that the detention of persons is not prolonged on account of their case files remaining pending.

On the other hand, Oza says, "Today, the detenues are in jail for more than four months and most insensitivity is exhibited to the detention matters...There are accused who are languishing in jail for want of their bail application being heard though filed long back and in large number of matters notice or rule having been issued and the date fixed for hearing by the Hon’ble Court."

He adds, "Let me make it very clear that I have not to appear nor I am going to appear in any pending detention matter."

He also clarifies that "I do not find fault with the Registrars of the different department of the Registry, who always extend their helping hand and extend courtesy to the advocates, but the problem lies once we go down in the hierarchy. I have no personal touch with the functioning of the Registry since long, but let me state you sir that complaints are being received from the advocates, speaks about their sufferings and miseries for getting the matter circulated."

In this backdrop, he has urged that the High Court start functioning in a full-fledge manner through video conferencing, with appropriate matters being assigned to all judges as per the roster.

"Imparting justice is also a sovereign function of the State through judiciary. Shutting down the courts or restricting its functioning only to extraordinary urgent matters does not reflect well to the reputation of the High Court to a man of prudence."
Yatin Oza

On a concluding note, he has written, "I hope and trust that your Lordship would be kind enough to start the functioning of the court full-fledged or atleast withdraw the above referred circular."

Read the Letter:

Request for immediate withdrawal of the circular dated. 01.05.2020.pdf
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