Kerala Advocate Clerks Association (KACA) has written to Chief Justice of India (CJI) NV Ramana to express their dissatisfaction with the way e-filing has been handled in the state’s courts.
In a letter dated June 2, the KACA stated that the Kerala High Court’s e-filing guidelines overlook the function of advocate clerks in the state, jeopardising the livelihoods of over 10,000 advocate clerks.
However, it was stressed that while advocate clerks are not opposed to any reforms aimed at improving the efficiency of the justice delivery system, they are concerned about its effectiveness in light of the fact that IT literacy is still lacking across the state and country.
“Therefore, e-filing alone may not cure the inordinate delay in disposal of cases. lt is also pertinent to note that there are several other more egregious factors contributing to such delays, such as an acute shortage of staff including those of Judges and poor infrastructure. A more holistic approach addressing these grievances must be brought in to deal with the issue of pendency, and unless this is done e-filing will only lead to abrupt deprivation of our jobs and loss of livelihood of thousands of people like us“,The letter stated
Even if some KACA members are able to transfer to e-filing tasks with proper training, given the volume of work and the complexity of the profession, a large number of others would be left behind.
Another issue mentioned is the exclusion of advocate clerks from the decision-making process and their denial of a hearing.
As a result, they’ve asked the CJI to treat the letter like a suo motu petition and award the following reliefs:
- Before all Courts, physical filing may be permitted in addition to e-filing.
- In the event that e-filing is fully implemented, clerks may be recognised as designated physical record keepers;
- A directive to the concerned governments to establish and implement a strategy for the rehabilitation of clerks who lose their jobs as a result of this system may be issued.
- In any case, if the above is not realistic or possible, please intervene to assemble a conclave of various stakeholders, including the Government of India, the Government of Kerala, the High Court of Kerala, the Advocate fraternity, and allow the KACA to be heard.
The Kerala High Court is now hearing a petition filed by an advocate clerk requesting that advocate clerks be included in the e-filing process.
Kerala Advocate Clerks Association president Rajendran VK told Bar & Bench in January,
“There are over 10,000 advocate clerks in Kerala so over 10,000 families are affected. When an initiative like this that affects the entire court system is implemented, one would think that the impact on such a significant section would be considered. However, no discussions were held to consider this even though advocate clerks are a section of the court system that would be largely affected by this“