Interview by- Atishree Gupta
Mrs AVN College Road
Near Allahabad Bank
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How much corona virus has impacted courts working and its mobility?
Ans: The impact of Covid19 has been on all the sectors and the functioning of Courts had seen a sea slide change. Irrespective of either Supreme Court or High Courts or Mufassil Courts had witnessed a new ball game altogether. It is not exorbitant to say Lawyers along with legal systems are un-cherished heroes. As the fact remains the same Paperless Courts cannot render Justice in all scenarios. There was a huge roar by a certain group of Lawyers against E -Filing as there was no breathing time to adopt for the same. BCI had also addressed a letter to concerned authorities for the voice so raised requesting for physical filing and financial Assistance to the Lawyers.
How your work is affected by this lockdown?
Ans: Apart from the Professions related to essential services every other Profession had a huge impact. As I hail from Civil office, in view of the Courts are functioning in a limited/restrictive mode and Honourable Supreme Court had taken Suo Motu cognizance of the situation to obviate difficulties due to lockdown and ordered that period of limitation shall stand extended w.e.f. 15th March 2020 till further orders, the same had my 80% impacted work as the limitation is suspended Clients will not show any enthusiasm in such a scenario to file immediately and the only litigation that raised up in COVID-19 is “ Force Majeure” clause invocation. Apart from certain tort notices and suits for restraining Orders of emergency in Nature rest all went to a vegetative state.
What are the shortcomings that the courts and the advocates are sustaining because of this pandemic and the lockdown?
Ans: Albeit Courts are functioning, they are limited mainly to urgent matters such as Bail Petitions, Suspension of the sentence, Habeas Corpus Petitions, Demolition, and eviction from premises, Dispossession from the land and any other matter the Honourable Court Deem Fit for urgency. As we are aware that before Covid19 Courts are piled up with pending matters and apart from few Courts almost all the Courts are working beyond the regular stipulated time for disposing of the pending files, and now due to Covid19 only urgent matters are been taken up and once Court starts functioning in regular mode there will be a huge pile of work wherein which Bar and Bench will be stretched to the max. Covid19 had created fear psychosis and uncertainty among the Advocates due sudden change in scenario, both fresh and pending cases had been affected and this has not exempted law firms and established offices too as there were no pre contingent funds nor pre contingent plans to address the same.
What is the role of a lawyer in this scenario?
Ans: Lawyers are the unsung Heroes in Covid19. India had gone for Lockdown in the month of March and now we are in a phase of unlocking. Amidst the same, there were a number of eventualities that had to be addressed for the prevailing conditions due to the present Pandemic (COVID19). When the system bewildered, there will be a lot of unanswered questions that lead to a lot of distress in the Society, and those are all had to be addressed by the legal fraternity, and here the legal fraternity includes Bar & Bench. All the lapses either by Government or Society or by an Individual had to be questioned and the same is done by the Lawyers by moving appropriate Petitions before appropriate authority to seek justice or by Suo Motu Cognizance by Courts. No matter what happens and how critical the situation might be the wheel of justice cannot halt nor the temple of justice cannot shut its doors.
What are your suggestions for overcoming these shortcomings?
Ans: Covid19 pandemic is such a one that no one has seen in their Human life and is unique in nature. It had affected all the professions. To overcome such a scenario the legal fraternity has to be modernized by preserving its renowned traditional system to keep up with the technological advancement in the society. The legal fraternity should undergo training and should be adaptable to every scenario which can only be attained by investing in the Human Resources of the fraternity and by providing adequate training and infrastructure and access to the same. The Government of India introduced Commercial Court Act 2015 to make litigation less cumbersome and expeditious and Certain Commercial Courts are to paperless Court and the same hasn’t seen the light till today. There has to be a mechanism to check the same as the Courts are already piled up with pending litigation. Law firms have to develop & retain a core team that would address the issues at times of pandemic. Individual Law offices should plan for certain buffer funds as the Advocates Act restricts the lawyers in engaging themselves in jobs and business.