Chandigarh Bench of Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) has started hearing of cases that are filed over electronic platforms, that is, e-filings. Those cases shall be heard over video-conferencing.
The guidelines to operationalise the CAT benches across India was issued by the ministry of Home Affairs. Chandigarh bench has a large jurisdiction including states of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, and Punjab. It also has jurisdiction on the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. Now considering the area it covers the urgent and important cases are also piling up. Depending upon the zones to be red, green, and orange (to determine the severity of Covid-19 zones were market to supervise and regulate the kind of activities that are permitted and prohibited). Chandigarh bench comes under the red zone, hence shall hear urgent cases that can be filed via email and heard via video conferencing. The CAT building was sanitized on Tuesday (12.05.2020). The guidelines said the cases of urgent nature can be filed through electronic mail service, that is, e-mail by contacting the registrar of the bench. The registrar will then furnish the email ID to the intending advocate of party. If the registry is satisfied, the head of the department (HoD) of the bench will be informed. The HoD will be the final authority to decide whether to listen the case.
On May 2nd, the Tribunal had issued a notification for hearing of cases via VC across all its Benches. And here I quote,
“As regards the Benches that are in RED (lockdown areas) and ORANGE Zones, the cases of urgent nature can be filed through electronic mail service (e-mail) by contacting the Registrar of the concerned Bench, who in turn shall furnish the e-mail id to the intending Advocate or Party. If the Registry is satisfied that the OA is otherwise in order and needs to be dealt with urgently, the HoD of the Bench shall be informed of the same. The HoD in turn shall decide whether or not to take up the case. If it is proposed to hear the case, it shall be done through CISCO WEBEX online Video Conferencing Facility. The details there of shall be worked out by the HoD of the Benches in consultation with the Registry of the Principal Bench. It shall be ensured that the participants in the Video Conference put on the apparel or at least, are properly dressed. If the Advocates of the Bar Association of such Benches are agreeable for hearing of pending cases through such mechanism, the cases shall be identified by the registry and hearing there of shall take place through the same system in a time slot that may bedecided by the HoD on daily basis.”
Since there is no online mode of hearing cases are mentioned in The Central Administrative Tribunal (Procedure) Rules, 1987, this shall be this notification shall be the arrangement. It also mentions that this arrangement shall be in force till 17.05.2020 or until further orders by the authorities. The Jabalpur CAT was the first to have start hearing cases online. This is an amazing initiative from the authorities. This way, once after the corona virus pandemic is over, the pressure load to handle cases will decrease. Alongside that the virtual way of hearing cases shall come in vogue. But this still leaves a question on the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT). What kind of remedy will the States take to cater to the urgent cases is still unknown.
This post is written Radhika Ghosh
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