Over the last weekend, the Madras High Court conducted training programmes for advocates to get them better acquainted with various aspects of e-court services, e-filing, e-payment, e-summons, usage of video conferencing, usage of e-Courts mobile app, service delivery at court complexes etc.
Conducted over the course of March 13 and 14 in programmes that were live telecasted from three Judicial academies in Chennai, Madurai and Coimbatore, the two-day sessions were attended by over 300 advocates.
Judicial officers took part as resource persons to train the lawyers, who in turn were encouraged to spread the knowledge they gained to other members of the Bar.
Chairman of the Madras High Court Computer Committee, Justice TS Sivagnanam observed on Saturday that the success of the programme lies in training as many people as possible. He also noted that Tamil Nadu is leading in terms of having conducted such webinar sessions during the COVID-19 lockdown. He added that there has been a sea of change when it comes to e-court services, that are now becoming advocate friendly and citizen-centric. These training programmes intend to make people more aware of these facilities, he said.
Justice N Sathish Kumar observed that the stakeholders cannot ignore the new system, and that interest must be shown. While there were hiccups initially in the working of the virtual system, he also agreed that the judiciary has now picked up and is doing well.
Justice AD Jagadish Chandira observed that the unexpected situation of the COVID-19 pandemic led to the immediate utilisation of e-court services as a fire-fighting measure, so that the access to justice and the administration of justice was not stalled.
He also informed that between March 26, 2020 and February 28, 2021, the High Court has heard about 5.06 lakhs cases through video conferencing, out of which 1.27 cases have been disposed of by both benches of the High Court.
On an empathetic note, the Judge also recalled an anecdote where he got angry at a lawyer when he is appearing without wearing a shirt during the initial period of videoconferencing hearings. While the lawyer was disconnected promptly by the control room, Justice Chandira later allowed the lawyer to re-enter the Virtual Court. This time, he appeared properly dressed. The Judge narrated,
“This time, he was not only wearing the sattai (shirt), he was also wearing a pattai. So I had to diffuse the situation, telling him ‘Sir, you can appear with or without a pattai, but you cannot appear without the sattai.”
“VC is a new thing to us. You may sometimes get angry but the same time, you must also understand, VC is nothing but a real court where you will have to imitate the decorum as in a real court.”
Justice Pushpa Sathyanarayana, who rendered the opening remarks in a session of the training programme live-streamed from Madurai on Saturday, observed that the training would definitely help the e-court regime to reach the next level.
“The appearance of advocates through VC has become the oder of the day. It saves not only time and energy of the stakeholders bur saves the nation in many ways, which you all know… knowing the nuances of the same is necessary fo every advocate for which I hope this programme would be of immense help”, she said, while urging all participants to spread the knowledge imparted.
Justice M Sundar, while speaking at the programme conducted from Chennai on Sunday spoke of how the use of e-Court services becomes easier to handle the more a person uses it. The thrust of the training sessions was to impart the knowledge gained to more people he noted, while informing the gathering that he took would attending some of the sessions,
“I continue to be a student of law, I continue to be a student of all these electronic progressions”, he observed.
Justice C Saravanan, in giving the opening remarks prior to the session conducted by the Judicial Academy at Coimbatore, made an appreciate note for the cooperation extended by the Bar in Tamil Nadu in ensuring the working of the virtual court system. He observed that the Tamil Nadu Judiciary is leading the country when it comes to video conferencing, e-filing of cases and e-payment of court fees.
Justice CV Karthikeyan expressed pride in the judiciary having been able to stand up to the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I would like to place on record the excellent work done by the e-committee of the supreme court which has been giving constant directions to the various high courts. The e-committee of the Madras High Court, in turn, stood up and opened up the doors of the court to every litigant available”, he said.
He added that he has found that cases involving substantial value continue to be taken up despite the new virtual system, although there may have been initial difficulties.
“Suits of substantial value have been argued…To my knowledge, there has been no drop in filing. Everyday, the staff are overworked in numbering the cases and bringing it immediately thereafter before the judge”, he observed.
The Training Programmes were conducted as per the direction of the High Court’s Computer Committee, chaired by Justice TS Sivagnanam and the Board of Governors of the Tamil Nadu State Judicial Academy. Chief Justice of the Madras High Court, Justice Sanjib Banerjee is the Patron-in-chief of the Tamil Nadu State Judicial Academy.
The training programmes may be viewed through the links given here:
- Saturday sessions for Madras zone, Madurai zone, Coimbatore zone
- Sunday sessions for Madras zone, Madurai zone, Coimbatore zone