The Apex Court in the case of Madhya Pradesh High Court Bar Association v. Union of India and ors, issued guidelines to facilitate e-filing at Debts Recovery Tribunals (DRTs) across the country. “In a country as diverse as India, a one-size-fits-all policy will not be appropriate, hence suitable modifications can be made as per exigencies.” Court further remarked.
The plea was filed regarding a notification issued by the Ministry of Finance in which Rule 3 of the Debt Recovery Tribunal and Debts Recovery Appellate Tribunals Electronic Filing (Amendment) Rules, 2023, as amended. As per the amended provision e-filing of pleadings by applicants before DRT/DRAT is made mandatory without any limit. Earlier it was only mandatory if the debt to be recovered was Rs. 100 crores or more.
The bench comprising CJI DY Chandrachud, Justice PS Narasimha, and Justice JB Pardiwala observed that “E-filing provides for transparency and efficiency in the administration of justice. It provides 24/7 access to justice and enforces convenience for lawyers and litigants. The decision to take up e-filing should be replicated by other tribunals including the High Courts.”
The bench passed the following directions:
- The bar association was permitted to submit their representations in case of any difficulties faced. The court stated that such representations shall focus on concrete suggestions to make e-filing more accessible.
- The court directed all chairpersons of DRTs and DRATs to submit reports every month initially for 6 months suggesting if any upgradation was necessary.
- The court requested the Director General of the National Informatics Centre to constitute a team to monitor the progress of e-filing in DRTs and DRATs.
- The court asked the Union government that in addition to setting help desks, it would be appropriate if “e-seva kendras” were also set up at DRTs and DRATs. It directed that all e-seva kendras should have adequate technical infrastructure like printers, scanners, and internet facilities.