Report No. 188
6.2 The following are broad guidelines for fast-track procedure.
(i) Pleadings and issues. The plaintiff must file in the Commercial Division, along with the plaint, the relevant documents on which the plaintiff proposes to rely and the statement of the witnesses in chief examination by way of an affidavit and the draft issues that are likely to arise. Copies of these have to be sent to the opposite parties on the same date on which the plaint is filed; list of interrogatories, if any, application for discovery and production, if any, mentioning their relevancy, must also be sent likewise on the above said date itself. Plaintiff must also furnish the full address, including e-mail or fax, telephone numbers, if any, of all claimants and of all the parties, to the extent known to plaintiff, for the purpose of expediting communication and correspondence. A list of draft issues has also to be filed on the same date.
Within one month from the date of receipt of the copy of the plaint and other annexures as stated above, the defendant must file his written statement in the Commercial Division along with all the relevant documents, affidavit of evidence in chief and applications referred to above as in the case of the plaintiff. He must also send copies thereof to the plaintiff. Simultaneously, if there is a counter-claim, he must file the claim along with the written statement coupled with the various documents referred to above. He must also file a draft of the issues that are likely to arise and send a copy thereof to the plaintiff.
In case the plaintiff wants to file a rejoinder, leave of Court will be necessary and he must apply within fifteen days of service of the written statement for this purpose and if permitted, must file rejoinder within one month of the order of the Commercial Division granting such permission. The procedure for filing various documents and applications which applies to plaints will also apply to counter-claims.
In case discovery or production of documents is allowed, the parties shall be permitted to file supplementary statements, within a period to be specified by the Commercial Division and a notice would be served on the opposite party, along with copies of documents and relevant affidavit evidence, if any.
(ii) Holding of 'Case Management Conferences' A single Judge in the Commercial Division shall hold one or more 'Case Management Conferences' and fix a time schedule for finalisation of the issues and for cross-examination, if any, of witnesses, and also for filing written submissions and for oral submissions thereafter. Any conditional orders for these purposes fixing time limits, if they are likely to result in an ex parte order or order in default, should however be passed by the Bench of two learned Judges.
Party or counsel must file written submissions before oral submissions; and at the Case-Management Conference, all time limits including those for oral submissions must be fixed in advance.
(iii) Resort to ADR methods The Commercial Division may apply the provisions of section 89 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 for considering resolution of dispute by Alternate Disputes Resolution methods.
(iv) Manner of recording evidence It is also proposed that evidence in cross-examination or reexamination can be recorded by a learned single Judge in the Commercial Division and objections as to admissibility can be recorded by him but may be decided by the Bench of two learned Judges.
We also recommend that the single Judge may appoint an Advocate Commissioner of not less than 25 years standing or a retired judicial officer of the rank of a District Judge or a retired senior Civil Judge, for recording such evidence in cross-examination or re-examination.
We may also point out that normally in such high value commercial cases, the evidence will be mostly documentary and there will be very little or no oral evidence.
(v) Commercial Division equipped with all hi-tech systems and on-line filing system. The Commercial Division will be equipped with all hi-tech systems referred to in the Chapter VIII, such as audio and video facilities, including video-conferencing. There should be on-line filing. The installation of hitech system need not delay the constitution of the Commercial Division or its function.
(vi) Time-limit for pronouncement of judgments Judgment of the Commercial Division has to be pronounced within thirty days of the conclusion of arguments and simultaneously copies thereof must be issued to all the parties through e-mail or otherwise.