Kerala Advocate Clerks' Association Stages Hunger Strike On Onam Day, High Court Judge Extends Support
The Kerala Advocate Clerks' Association has staged a hunger strike near the Kerala High Court building at Ernakulam today, on the occasion of Onam. The Clerks decided to protest with a hunger strike on Onam, which is celebrated across the state by having an Onam Sadhya or feast.
The protest was against the manner of implementation of the decision to switch to e-filing of proceedings in all Courts across the State from the 1st of August. The Association has claimed that the manner in which the decision is being implemented will render the tens of thousands of Advocate Clerks jobless and their families will suffer. The Association says that their suggestions to ensure that Clerks in the State don't become jobless were ignored by the authorities. The Association also clarifies that it is not per se against the implementation of e-filing.
Apart from leaders of various associations of Advocates, Justice PV Kunhikrishnan of the Kerala High Court also spoke at the venue, addressing the protesting Clerks. "I will not be a party to any decision that ignores the Advocate Clerks", he assured the protesting Clerks. He said that the High Court would always be with the Clerks and started his speech by urging the Clerks not to protest against the High Court. "Changes are required in all fields and these are difficulties being faced due to such changes", he said. He said that Clerks have helped him a lot in building his career as a Lawyer. He also added that a case related to the issue is before his Court and hence he does not want to speak more on the issue.
Some of the demands raised by Advocate Clerks' Association are as follows:
1. The condition of e-filing that handwritten copies are not permissible, be withdrawn and the rules be modified to permit handwritten pleadings in a scanned PDF form.
2. Applications, copy applications, Batha Memo etc. other than the Paint or Complaint be excluded from mandatory e-filing.
3. Sufficient number of E-Seva Centers be established in all Court complexes across the State and e-filing be implemented in a phased manner.
4. Physical filing be retained along with e-filing.
Mandatory e-filing of all case types including all criminal cases, except Final Reports filed by Police or other Investigating Agencies in all the Courts in the District Judiciary in Kerala was ordered by the High Court with effect from August 1, 2023 by a memorandum issued in July, 2023. Thereafter, certain applications etc. were excluded from mandatory e-filing.