It has been a year since the Bombay High court made e-filing of civil and criminal cases compulsory, and refused to accept manual submissions. But lawyers are still facing a lot of glitches and are now requesting the authority to allow manual filing until the system is smooth.
The Bar Association of Bombay City Civil Court and Sessions Court addressed a letter to the principal sessions judge, on January 2, pointing several difficulties faced by the lawyers and pleading to allow offline submissions.
'Persistently affecting smooth functioning'
“While the introduction of e-court filing has undoubtedly brought advancements to our legal processes, it is essential to acknowledge the practical difficulties encountered by advocates in its implementation. Issues such as frequent server downtimes, website malfunctions, challenges in the oath-taking process, and varying internet speeds have been persistently affecting the smooth functioning of the e-court filing system,” reads the letter written by the president of Bar Association, Ravi Jadhav.
Besides, lawyers from the family court initiated a campaign wherein a letter signed by around 200 lawyers was sent to various authorities.
'Inconvenience and substantial losses'
The letter states: “The expeditious completion of filing within 15 minutes during physical filing sharply contrasts with the extended timelines associated with e-filing, attributed to server speed fluctuations and occasional downtimes. Subsequent to e-filing, the initial scrutiny spans protracted two to three months, with the removal of objections consuming an additional one to two months to secure the first returnable date. A noteworthy aspect is the emergence of new objections post the removal of the initial ones, amplifying the time investment. Consequently, litigants are confronted with an approximate six-month interval before attaining their first returnable date, causing inconvenience and substantial losses.”
Meanwhile, advocate Munira Palanpurwala highlighted several practice glitches while submitting petitions online. “The online filing system is very cumbersome and time consuming, as firstly the filing is done under specific titles which actually do not stand as the head under which one is seeking relief. Moreover there are different pages, which are supposed to be filed with details, however, the drop down arrow does not show options but those fields are marked as compulsory.”
“The entire petition is supposed to be scanned an uploaded, which is quite time consuming. For every single petition we are supposed to video record oaths. Further, after completion of these formalities we are supposed to submit hard copy by taking a number and standing in a queue. So in short to sum it up the online procedure has not reduced filing time but increased the same making it more complicated.”
Similar issues are faced at the sessions court while filing criminal cases. Advocate Prakash Salshingikar, criminal lawyer, said, “It is difficult to follow e-filing every time in criminal cases. Sometime there is an urgency of moving application and getting order from the court. For instance, in the case of cancellation of warrant, stay of non-bailable warrant, application for provisional cash bail. Besides, due to filing advocates required to spend money which ultimately burdened to the litigants.”
Aasif Naqvi, secretary with Bar association of Bombay City Civil and Sessions Court, said, “Online filing becomes difficult as there are network issues some time as one time password is not generated. Senior advocates are not that tech savvy so they find it difficult for e-filing.”
Naqvi further suggested that Infrastructure for e-filing should be provided in the court building with at least four to six computers.