The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal, on Monday (May 24, 2021), through its notice directed temporary relaxation of Standard Operating Procedures by allowing e-filings given the prevailing pandemic situation.
Taking note of the prevailing circumstances and difficulty that would be caused to the parties in reaching NCLAT for filing hard copies due to the ongoing pandemic, NCLAT has revised its Standard Operating Procedure to provide for e-filing of documents by parties.
The Revised Standard Operating Procedure dated January 3, 2021, stated “It may be noted that it is mandatory that Learned Advocates/ Authorised Representatives/ Parties-in-person shall file the Appeal/ Interlocutory Application/ Reply/ Rejoinder etc. in hard copy also as per the procedure prescribed in NCLAT Rules, 2016, along with the e-filing receipt”.
Last week (May 21, 2021), the Delhi High Court issued a notice to NCLAT on its revised standard operating procedure. A Petition was filed before the Delhi High Court which pleaded that the NCLAT be directed to allow online filing of documents as forcing litigants to file hard copies physically would expose them to Covid-19.
NCLAT modified its revised Standard Operating Procedure to allow for e-filing of documents by Advocates, Parties-in-person, and, authorized representatives until the Tribunal resumes physical hearing or until it further issues an order in this regard. The amendment also states that such e-filing should be accompanied by an undertaking that the Advocates/Parties-in-person shall file hard copies of such documents upon resumption of physical hearings.
The amended Standard Operating Procedure reads as thus “It is directed by the Competent Authority that if in any matter the Learned Advocates/ Authorised Representatives/ Parties-in-person are facing difficulty in filing hard copies due to the existing Covid-19 pandemic situation, they may e-file with the Appeal/ Interlocutory Application/ Reply/ Rejoinder etc. and Undertaking, in format, that they shall file hard copies of the Appeal/ Interlocutory Application/ Reply/ Rejoinder etc. as per the procedure prescribed in the NCLAT Rules, 2016, when Tribunal resumes physical hearings, or until further orders in this regard as may be passed by the Competent Authority, whichever is earlier. However, if in a given matter, the Bench hearing the matter so specifically directs, the parties will file Hard Copies as may be directed by the Bench.”