E-filing and loss of livelihood: Kerala Advocate Clerks Association writes to CJI NV Ramana with concerns

The KACA said that the rules notified by the Kerala High Court for implementation of the e-filing system ignores the role and livelihoods of over 10,000 advocate clerks in the state.
KACA, e-filing
KACA, e-filing

The Kerala Advocate Clerks Association (KACA) has written to Chief Justice of India (CJI) NV Ramana with their grievances regarding the manner in which e-filing has been implemented at courts in state.

The KACA, in its letter dated June 2, said that the e-filing rules notified by the Kerala High Court ignores the role of advocate clerks in the State of Kerala, putting in jeopardy, the livelihoods of over 10,000 advocate clerks.

However, it clarified that advocate clerks are not not against any reforms being implemented for efficient justice delivery system, but that they have serious concerns regarding its effectiveness when IT literacy is still wanting across the state and the country.

"Therefore, e-filing alone may not cure the inordinate delay in disposal of cases. lt is also pertinent to note that there are several other more egregious factors contributing to such delays, such as an acute shortage of staff including those of Judges and poor infrastructure. A more holistic approach addressing these grievances must be brought in to deal with the issue of pendency, and unless this is done e-filing will only lead to abrupt deprivation of our jobs and loss of livelihood of thousands of people like us", the letter sated.

Even if some members of KACA may be able to transition to carrying out e-filing duties with sufficient taining, a great many more members will be left behind considering the volume of work and the complexities of the profession.

Another grievance raised is about advocate clerks being left out of the decision making process and being denied a hearing.

Therefore, they have requested the CJI to consider the letter as a suo motu petition and grant the following reliefs:

  • Physical filing may also be allowed along with e-filing before all Courts;

  • That clerks may recognized as designated physical record keepers in an event e-filing is adopted in full swing and vigor;

  • A direction may be issued to the Governments concerned to design and implement a scheme for rehabilitation of clerks who lose their work by this system;

  • ln any case if the above is not viable or feasible, kindly intervene to convene a conclave of the different stakeholders, such as the Government of lndia, the Government of Kerala, the High Court of Kerala, the Advocate fraternity etc. and afford the KACA an opportunity to be heard.

The Kerala High Court is currently seized of a petition moved by an advocate clerk seeking the inclusion of advocate clerks in the e-filing procedure.

Speaking to Bar & Bench in January, Kerala Advocate Clerks Association president Rajendran VK said,

"There are over 10,000 advocate clerks in Kerala so over 10,000 families are affected. When an initiative like this that affects the entire court system is implemented, one would think that the impact on such a significant section would be considered. However, no discussions were held to consider this even though advocate clerks are a section of the court system that would be largely affected by this"

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