The Madras High Court has put in place new guidelines for litigants, who wish to appear as party in person. Such litigants now have to obtain a certificate from the Party-in-Person Committee.
According to the High Court of Madras (Conduct of Proceedings by Party-In-Person) Rules, 2019, notified recently, when a party wants to appear and argue the case in person, he or she shall “first file an application duly attested by Oath Commissioner or Notary along with the proceedings seeking permission to appear in-person.”
The Party-in-Person Committee would scrutinise the case, interact with the litigant and give its opinion on whether the individual would be able to give necessary assistance to the court. If the committee concludes that the person was not competent to appear in-person, it will refer the litigant to the High Court Legal Services Committee for offering legal services. The person has to give an undertaking that he/she shall maintain decorum of the court. Nonetheless, courts would have the discretion to allow litigants to appear in person.
Activist ‘Traffic’ K.R. Ramaswamy, known to appear in person for his PILs, said he would challenge the rules. Retired Madras High Court judge K. Chandru said such a rule was “illegal.” Another former judge D. Hariparanthaman said while there was nothing wrong in offering assistance to litigants, if they were not aware of the Legal Services Authority, no court could prevent anyone from appearing party-in-person.