Karnataka CJ: Sorting tons of emails, running courts with pains

Things have gotten so bad, that the Chief Justice has threatened to impose cost on inconsiderate advocates.

Published: 12th July 2020 06:27 AM  |   Last Updated: 12th July 2020 06:27 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

BENGALURU: Karnataka Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka is spending six hours a day sorting emails from advocates requesting urgent hearings, in addition to holding regular video conference sittings — which start at 10.30am and can go up to 5.30pm — five days a week.

Due to the Standard Operating Procedure in place for keeping courts functional during the pandemic, the Chief Justice has been receiving emails from advocate across the state requesting urgent hearings. The Chief Justice uses his discretion to slot hearings for urgent cases at the Principal Bench in Bengaluru, and benches in Dharwad and Kalaburagi, on a day-to-day basis.

Things have gotten so bad, that the Chief Justice has threatened to impose cost on inconsiderate advocates. On July 8, an advocate was told to appear before a division bench, headed by Chief Justice Oka via video conference, before the court began hearing listed matters for the day, and got a mild reprimand. 

‘Members of the Bar must behave responsibly’

“I am spending six hours every day reading emails. Your email (received earlier this week), is fit to initiate contempt proceedings against you. You sent an email without mentioning the Filing Registration number and requested a hearing, but we replied to that. Still, you responded by saying ‘You are not understanding anything’. Many lawyers are unlikely to say so, but you did. The registry is being blamed for no reason. You have been asked to appear so that we can compliment you,” Justice Oka said, sarcastically.
The advocate in question apologised to the court, saying that his junior, who was not well-versed in English, had replied to the email.

Justice Oka then said, “I intend to publish some of the emails sent to me after the pandemic (when the situation returns to normal). If your junior doesn’t know English, you should not allow him to send an email.”Justice Oka also reportedly took exception to “nasty emails” that advocates were sending, including to his personal email account.

During the hearing of a PIL on July 9, the Chief Justice said the flood of emails, including multiple ones on the same case, added to the court’s difficulty in functioning while the pandemic brought up its own set of issues. “Members of the Bar must behave responsibly. Once a reply has been sent, you must not send repeated emails.

If we receive an email for one that has already been replied to, we may have to impose a cost of Rs 1 lakh, payable to the Chief Minister’s Covid Relief Fund, and take up the matter for hearing,” Justice Oka told an advocate on July 9, and added that the court was functioning with only a quarter of its staff. During a hearing on Friday, Chief Justice Oka said that 51 judicial officers and 98 staff are in home quarantine and 18 people have tested positive. Thirty court complexes across the state had to be closed for sanitisation and were reopened after a day or two, he added.


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