Bar and Bench - Indian Legal news
Madras High Court rules for appearing Party–in-Person notified [Read Rules]

Madras High Court rules for appearing Party–in-Person notified [Read Rules]

Meera Emmanuel

The Government has notified new rules to regulate the procedure for appearing party-in-person before the Madras High Court. Named the High Court of Madras (Conduct of Proceedings by Party–in-Person) Rules, 2019 (2019 Rules), these rules will govern litigants who wish to plead, appear and argue his or her own case before the High Court and not through an Advocate.

The 2019 Rules require such litigants to personally approach the filing counter of the High Court. In this regard, Rule 4 states,

The presentation of any matter or proceedings by the person not represented by an Advocate shall be made by such person personally in filing counter of the High Court.

This rule also requires the party-in-person to submit at least one identity proof with full address and photo, along with the applicant’s mobile number and e-mail ID.  As per Rule 7, the papers presented by the party-in-person in the filing counter as per stipulated office timings shall be scrutinized by the concerned Scrutiny Branches within one week.

Rule 5 makes it mandatory to file the application for appearing party-in-person after having it duly attested by an Oath Commissioner or Notary, along with the proceedings seeking permission to appear in-person. The rule also prescribes the following with respect to the application form.

  • The application should indicate reasons why the litigant cannot or does not want to engage an Advocate and wants to appear and argue in-person.
  • It should be accompanied by an undertaking that if Court appoints an Amicus Curiae or an advocate from the panel of the High Court’s Legal Services Committee (for better assistance of the Court and for proper adjudication of the case), the party will accept such an appointment unconditionally

The Rules also envisions a party-in-person committee, to oversee the processing of applications and to guide litigants in appearing party-in-person. The committee is to be constituted by the High Court’s Chief Justice and has been given the following powers

  • Scrutiny of filings: All applications to appear party-in-person have to be verified by the committee. As per Rule 8, all filings by the applicants are to be scrutinised by the Committee to ensure that the party-in-person has complied with the requirements of the Madras High Court Appellate Side Rules, 1965 and Madras High Court Original Side Rules, 1956 and other applicable Rules/procedure.  The committee is also to ensure that the party-in- person “has not made any objectionable averments/allegations and has not used and undertaken not to use or speak an unparliamentary language in the proceedings and the matter of like nature, in the Court or Office.”
  • Guidance of litigants: After the litigant’s papers are scrutinised by a scrutiny branch, the same is presented (the petitioners/applications or objections) to the committee. The litigant seeking to appear party-in-persons is required to appear before the committee at a specified date and time.  As per rule 7, the party-in-person committee inter alia shall guide him/her about the mannerisms and the language to be used in the Court and the decorum of the Court to be maintained. This procedure is applicable to any interlocutory applications filed by party-in-person subsequent to the filing of main proceedings viz. Petition, Appeal, Revision Petition etc.
  • Issuance of Certificate to appear party-in-personFollowing interaction with the litigant, the committee is to give opinion by way of office report on whether the litigant would be able to sufficiently assist the court while appearing party-in-person, or whether it is required that the Court appoint an Amicus Curiae or other advocates from the legal services panel. If the litigant is found not competent, the committee may refer the party-in-person to the High Court Legal Services Committee for offering legal services (if the party is entitled to legal aid). A litigant would only be allowed to appear party-in-person after the Court allows it based on the litigant’s application and the certificate obtained from the committee. However, the permission is subject to further orders that the Court may pass (Rule 8 (g)).

The High Court is ultimately vested with the discretionary power to determine whether a party would be allowed to appear in person. In this regard, Rule 10 contains a non-obstante provision, which states,

Notwithstanding anything contained in these Rules, the concerned Court before which the matter lies, may, in its discretion, permit a litigant/s to appear in-person and conduct proceedings in Court.

Rule 9 clarifies that these rules are not applicable in matters concerning bail, temporary/transit bail, parole, furlough and habeas corpus petitions.

Rule 11 provides that the 2019 Rules would be applicable to pending and future matters before the High Court.

[Read the Rules]