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Litigant moves SC for recall of dismissal order on "mistaken notion", says technical glitch prevented him from making submissions

Shruti Mahajan

A litigant who had filed a plea in relation to mass lay-offs in the IT sector in India amid lockdown, has moved the Supreme Court saying that the petition was dismissed by the Court on a "mistaken notion" and he was unable to highlight the same to the Court owing to a technical glitch during the virtual hearing. (NITES' Application for recall order of dismissal with Amended Memo of parties)

In April this year, amid the nationwide lockdown, a petition was moved by an Advocate and the General Secretary of the National Information Technology Employees Sena – "NITES" (affiliated to Bharatiya Kamgar Sena), which works for the welfare and benefits of IT/ITES/BPO/KPO employees.

This petition sought strict compliance of the government notifications dated March 20 and March 29, which directs employers not to terminate jobs and to ensure that wages are paid during lockdown.

This petition was dismissed by the Supreme Court on May 15, and the applicant, NITES, has now moved the Court seeking a recall of the order of this dismissal stating that the same was based on a "mistaken notion". This notion could not be clarified by the petitioners in the case on account of technical glitches during the virtual hearings, the applicant says.

This petition was first taken up by the Court on May 8 after which the practising lawyer, who was one of the petitioners, was sought to be removed from the array of parties. This permission was granted by the Court and the matter was subsequently listed for hearing on a later date.

On May 15, this matter was taken up along with a batch of other petitions, all touching upon the issue of wages and termination from service of workers of various industries. While orders were passed in all the other petitions, NITES' plea was dismissed by the Court on the "mistaken notion" that the petition was filed by a lawyer.

...when Item no. 26 was called out, due to a technical glitch, neither the Advocate on Record, nor the Advocate on the matter (Mr. Rajesh Inamdar), who was also on the Video Conference, were audible to the Hon’ble Court. The Hon’ble Court dismissed the matter on the sole ground that it had been filed by a lawyer
Application recalls the events of the hearing

It was the technical glitch that prevented the Advocates in the case from pointing out to the Court that the practising lawyer is no longer a party to the case and it was, in fact, with the leave of the Supreme Court that he was removed as a petitioner. In the absence of these submissions on behalf of the petitioners, this matter came to be dismissed, it is claimed.

This application for recall further states that immediately after the dismissal of the case, various attempts were made by the petitioners to make a mention of the case before the Court or to reach out to the Court master, however, all the efforts were futile.

Additionally, pursuant to the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court in the suo motu matter concerning virtual hearings, the petitioner also wrote an email on the helpline contact details provided but the same was not actioned upon and thus constraining the petitioner to move an application before the Court.

Expressing distress over the events, the application says, "due to the unforeseen and unprecedented pandemic situation, the Hon’ble Courts has taken the extraordinary step of convening through Video Conferencing, which is laudable. However, it is submitted that they are not substitutes for physical Court hearing. It is submitted that the Advocates and Litigants are facing some serious difficulties, especially in terms of connectivity/network/audibility. The present case is a classic example of the same."

Highlighting the importance of the issue raised in the original petition, the application here says that if orders are not passed by the Apex Court, a large number of people will face unprecedented adverse economic situation.

The "middle class" would be adversely and prejudicially affected and the mass layoffs and cuts in wages would lead to serious human impact. For this reason it is essential for the petition to be reinstated and for the order of dismissal to be recalled.

This application is drawn by Advocates Pai Amit and Rajesh Inamdar.

Read Application:

NITES' Application for recall order of dismissal with Amended Memo of parties.pdf
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