(L-R) AG KK Venugopal, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and SG Tushar Mehta
(L-R) AG KK Venugopal, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and SG Tushar Mehta
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Law Minister says 'Overzealous PILs' should be avoided amid COVID-19; Meeting with top Law Officers as virtual hearings may remain the norm

Debayan Roy

In a first of its kind virtual meeting with top law officers of the country, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Sunday stressed on the need to avoid “overzealous PILs” during these “challenging times.

While no one can stop anyone from filing cases, the Law Minister is stated to have said that “there needs to be an effective response to these types of interventions.”

This was the first virtual meeting conducted with the participation of top law officers including Attorney General KK Venugopal, Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta, all Additional Solictiors General, Assistant Solicitors General, the Secretary of the Department of Legal Affairs and the Secretary of the Department of Justice, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19.

As per a press release issued on the same, Law Minister Prasad is said to have categorically stated that the lockdown was announced by the Prime Minister after consulting the respective state Chief Ministers and that there was a need to “trust the government.”

As for the Law Minister's point on avoiding “overzealous PILs”, the Attorney General and Solicitor General agreed with Prasad during the meet.

The meeting resulted in a consensus that, in view of the seriousness of the pandemic, Court proceedings through video conferencing may remain a norm for some time to come. The Law Minister, in particular, emphasized that this challenge must be taken as an opportunity to make digital systems in justice delivery more robust.

During the meeting, the Secretary of the Department of Justice highlighted various issues on the functioning of e-Courts and related developments.

The Secretary shared that during the lockdown, there was a significant growth in the number of Advocates who have registered for e-filing of cases. In this regard, it was stated that 1,282 Advocates have registered for e-filing of petitions during lockdown, out of which 543 Advocates have registered in the last one week alone.

Given that technical glitches continue to affect virtual hearings, the Attorney General and many other law officers also stressed that there was a need to strengthen the e-Courts system by addressing the connectivity issues and by training of lawyers in e-Courts management.

The Law Minister has, therefore, directed the Secretary of the Justice Department, who is also a member of the e-Courts Committee of the Supreme Court, to place these challenges before the Committee, in coordination with the NIC and other agencies so that the system may be improved.

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Press Release - Law & Justice - VC with Law Officers.pdf
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