HIGH COURT OF GUJARAT
Subject: Successful implementation of video conferencing based hearing and efiling of matters by High Court of Gujarat
To address the present Corona Virus pandemic challenged situation and to substantially curb the footfall in the High Court premises, under the guidance of Honourable the Chief Justice of High Court of Gujarat, Mr. Justice Vikram Nath, the High Court of Gujarat has, today, successfully implemented video conferencing based hearing of matters and soft copy filing of matters for the High Court Gujarat during the present crisis period.
Honourable the Chief Justice of High Court of Gujarat issued order dated 22.03.2020 directing to switch to soft copy filing of matters and video conferencing based hearing of matter using Zoom Cloud Meeting portal, Today, all the matters listed in the High Court of Gujarat were taken up for hearing through video-conferencing. Judgements were also pronounced through video conferencing.
In the Court of Honourable Mr. Justice AY Kogje, 4 matters listed in the causelist were all taken up through video call; wherein the advocates of the matter represented their parties through video conferencing while sitting at their homes/offices. Similarly 1 matter was also taken up through video conferencing in the Court of Honourable Mr. Justice J. B. Pardiwala and Honourable Ms. Justice Bela M. Trivedi. This is also noteworthy that, all these matters were filed through efiling mode by the concerned advocates/parties.
Also that, the Bench of Honourable Chief Justice Mr. Justice Vikram Nath and Honourable Mr. Justice Ashutosh J. Shastri pronounced judgements in two connected matters through video conferencing.
Along with the learned advocates of parties of the matters, Ld. Government Pleader and Ld. Public Prosecutor of the State of Gujarat also participated in the hearing of cases and the pronouncement of the judgment through video conferencing from their offices only.
The method of initiating the video call(conference) and joining thereof by the concerned advocates was very user friendly. Whenever a particular matter was taken up for hearing, through a specially developed programme by the I. T. Cell of High Court, the server sent an automatically generated SMS to all the advocates of the matter, containing the link of the video conferencing to be joined by the advocates. The quality of audio & video was also very satisfactory and Honourable Judges as well as the advocates found the video conferencing mode of hearing the matters very useful, easy and particularly substantially beneficial in today’s trying times of Covid-19 pandemic spread.
While implementing this system by the High Court, it has been ensured that, no lawyer or party-in-person is required to enter the Court Premises. Only the staff and that too, in minimum number as required, entered the Court Premises.
The photographs taken during the hearing and a small video taken during the pronouncement of judgment by Honourable the Chief Justice of High Court of Gujarat Mr. Justice Vikram Nath are being made available through website of the High Court of Gujarat.
(R. K. DESAI)
HIGH COURT OF GUJARAT
The Honourable Chief Justice has issued the following order to deal with the present crisis:
Considering the gravity of situation prevailing not only in the State of Gujarat but also in the entire nation, after due consultation with Honourable Members of the Standing Committee, learned Advocate General, learned Public Prosecutor, learned Government Pleader, learned Assistant Solicitor General and the President of the Gujarat High Court Advocates’ Association, it has been decided to take up all extremely urgent matters, both on the civil and criminal side, in continuation of the previous orders issued, to be by Video Conferencing. This will be effective with effect from Monday, the 23rd March, 2020.The matters already fixed by the respective Courts for Monday, 23rd March, 2020 will be taken up by the newly assigned Division Bench and the learned Single Judge in their physical form in their respective Courts. No fresh filing in physical form will be accepted from Monday, 23rd March, 2020. However, the matters which have already been presented in the Registry, and in which mention for urgency is accepted during this crisis period, no soft copy would be required. The arguments thereof, however, will be through video conferencing only. The matters in which mention for being urgent, made before the assigned Benches on Monday, 23rd March, 2020 and accepted for being taken up on the same day, may be in the physical form. The modalities for submitting soft copies of the petition and connectivity by way of Video Conferencing are provided in detail in the attached methodology. This will curtail the movement of judges, lawyers, staff of the High Court as also the staff of the lawyers and the litigants. The Honourable Judges will work from their respective chambers whereas others will be able to work from home or their office.
One Division Bench for all civil & criminal matters and one Single Judge Bench for all civil & criminal matters would be nominated by the Chief Justice for the said purpose. The Benches may change from day to day or remain the same as the Chief Justice may deem fit.
Matters where judgment is to be pronounced, would be notified through SMS & Email to the respective lawyers appearing in the matters and a link of Zoom Cloud Meeting would be sent indicating the time also so that respective lawyers may get connected and hear the pronouncement.
The above measures are being taken only for the period of the crisis presently prevailing. As soon as, normal functioning starts, the
above system will cease.
HIGH COURT OF GUJARAT
METHODOLOGY FOR e-FILING AND VIDEO CONFERENCING
a) The complete petition in soft copy (scanned PDF format) filed through advocate, may be sent from registered email address of the advocate to [email protected] one day in advance. Further, soft copies of the same may be sent to the Government Pleaders / Public Prosecutors Office at the following address [email protected] for civil matters, [email protected] for criminal matters, and [email protected] for matters relating to Central Government respectively. A brief note explaining the extreme urgency would also accompany the petition. If urgency is considered favourably by the concerned Bench, necessary intimation of listing date and time will be informed to the petitioner/advocate.
b) Payment of Court Fees and filing of affidavit by petitioner, as of now, are optional but the same will have to be furnished once the normal working of the High Court is restored.
c) All pages of the petition would be signed by the petitioner / authorised agent and also by the lawyer before being scanned. Annexures to the petition, shall also be scanned in PDF format and sent along with the petition. However, upon restoration of normal functioning of the High Court, hard copies of the complete petition as required under the rules would have to be supplied. In cases where affidavit has not been filed with the soft copy, the affidavit which may be subsequently be sworn, would contain recital to the effect that the petition was filed during the crisis period but its contents are being verified now. Even for the matters filed through e-filing during this crisis period and disposed of during this period, the petitioner and his/her lawyer would supply the hard copy complete in all respects, upon restoration of normal functioning of the High Court.
d) The reply, civil application, miscellaneous civil application, if any, to be filed during this period, shall also be filed as per
the method given for e-filing of petition.
2) Video Conferencing:
a) On receipt of the SMS and on clicking on Zoom Cloud Meeting link, any device will be able to connect to the Video Meeting/Call initiated from the Court for that matter. As the link will be sent to only the registered advocates representing the parties in the matter or parties in case appearing in person, it is expected that only the advocates/party-in-person will join the meeting/call to participate in the hearing of the matter. If such a link is forwarded to another advocate (Senior Counsel etc.), the meeting can be joined by him/her also. The advocate / party-in-person will ensure that the link is not forwarded to any other advocate/person not connected with the matter.
b) In the above said video call platform, which is available for Desktop based platform as well as mobile/tablet device based platform, there is a facility of initiating a New Call/Meeting simultaneously generating a link of that particular Call/Meeting. The IT Cell has already developed the mechanism of transmitting an SMS message to the mobile numbers of the registered advocates appearing in the matter, wherein the said link can be sent for the matter to be taken up along with hearing schedule.
c) There would not be any requirement of any further user details being sought from the advocates/parties for ensuring the Zoom Calls access by them. The only requirement for advocates/parties would be that they should have Zoom Cloud Meeting App installed in any of their mobile/tablet devices (Android/iOS) or their Desktops with Windows/MacOS/Linux OS; with a Zoom Cloud Meeting user ID logged in.