The Chairman of BCI, Manan Kumar Mishra has written a letter to Chief Justice SA Bobde, admitting that while resorting to technology and video conference hearings during lockdown is the “need of the hour”, extending this practice after the lockdown is lifted would be an “impractical thought.”
Mishra asserted that many Senior Advocates, retired Judges and even some sitting Judges of the Supreme Court are oblivious to the ground realities of India.
“They are thinking on such a tangent and making such utopian plans, which is as if, they are planning upon implementing and executing such ideas for a fully developed nation like UK, USA, or in some other country other than India.”
Mishra highlighted that there are significant economic disparities existing in the country to point out that all members of the legal fraternity do not have access to the requisite technological resources.
There is a “humongous difference in the technical knowhow” explaining that this gap could be rooted in factors such as one’s age or mode of education. “Justice is expected to permeate to all levels”, Mishra added that people knock on the doors of the Court closest to them after failing to get their grievances redressed by the executive.
Many of these Courts, or the Advocates practising there, may not be equipped with the “modern technology” required for e-filing, scanning, and video conferencing. 90 % of the advocates and Judges across the country would not be aware of the technology at use and its nuances, and that they would require some degree of training before the same can be put to use by them.
“If such practice is encouraged and allowed to continue (even beyond lockdown) there is not an iota of doubt that more than 95% of the advocates of the country will become brief less and work less and the practice of law will be confined to a limited group of lawyers and justice delivery would be badly affected.”
Mishra said that the “thought process may be advanced, but we cannot be jumping the gun.”
“Our thought process is very advanced, and it should be so too, but we can’t be jumping the gun and foraying into a totally impractical and unworkable world. It is easy to always spread utopian ideas among the people, but ideas have to always be weighed and balanced with the practical position and its results.”
Mishra also mentioned that the BCI had also issued directions to the administrative heads of Legal Education Institutions to continue online education, given the present circumstances. But the legal education is not complete with a classroom.
Mishra highlighted that the prevalent conditions have placed many advocates in a difficult position financially.
He stated that while the BCI is extending the help it can, the Courts may have to find a safe method to gradually restore its functioning, should the lockdown be extended.
Read the letter here: