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Legal Article

Age of Coronavirus and Video Conferencing in Courts of India

Introduction:

The lockdown in the country has put many things on hold such as industries, companies, government and private institutions and government offices and so on. These are locked down due to Coronavirus or COVID-19, which is spreading across the country as well as around the world. Our government has adopted many ways to protect its people from the disease and social distancing is the most important step taken by the government to protect its people. We can conclude that social distancing means we have to be at home or keep distance from others and this resulted in lockdown.

Our PM Narendra Modi and representatives of the SAARC nations along with the leaders of our country participated in a video conference to chalk out a joint strategy to fight against this COVID-19 disease. It has come to the notice that most of the employees of the small and big companies are working from home via video conference just to protect their companies from huge loss and also to secure their earning.

The most important topic we will discuss here is about the judicial system because this system can’t be on hold since justice delivery is important to run a society and for the country as a whole. Currently, few judges of the Supreme Court are hearing cases through video conferencing from their homes and realising its importance. Video conferencing in courts of India during coronavirus is important as several litigants are suffering due to closure of courts. High Courts and District Courts of India can help litigants by hearing urgent cases through video conferencing and they can also realise that this process will not only be time efficient but also lead to saving important resources. There are many pending cases in the Supreme Court as well as in the High Courts and District Courts of India, video conferencing during coronavirus will help clear the backlog of cases as well. Not only during coronavirus, but also later, the Supreme Court, the High Courts and the District Courts can utilize video conferencing to continue with their adjudication.

There are different provisions which allow video conferencing within the legal system of India and these provisions are provided under different Acts such as Indian Evidence Act, 1872, Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, Information Technology Act, 2000 and so on. Section 273, Section 317, Section 299, etc, of the Criminal Procedure Code and Section 3 along with other sections of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 legalise video conference. There are provisions that if the person is unable to come to the court or to bring him to the court may cost a huge amount then in such type of cases electronic records or any such equivalent records are permissible in the court.

Section 3 of the Indian Evidence Act reads as follows: Evidence—Evidence means and includes”-

“(1) all statements which the Court permits or requires to be made before it by witnesses, in relation to matters of fact under inquiry; such statements are called oral evidence”

 (2) all documents including electronic records produced for the inspection of the Court;such documents are called documentary evidence”

Thus evidence can be both oral and documentary and electronic records can be produced as evidence. This means that evidence, even in criminal matters, can also be by way of electronic records. This would include video- conferencing.

Case Analysis:

The State Of Maharashtra vs Dr. Praful B. Desai on 1 April, 2003 Supreme Court of India

“The complainant’s wife was suffering from terminal cancer. It is the case of the prosecution that the complainant’s wife was examined by Dr. Ernest Greenberg of Sloan Kettering Memorial Hospital, New York, USA, who opined that she was inoperable and should be treated only with medication. Thereafter the complainant and his wife consulted the Respondent, who is a consulting surgeon practising for the last 40 years. In spite of being made aware of Dr Greenberg’s opinion the Respondent suggested surgery to remove the uterus. It is the case of the prosecution that the complainant and his wife agreed to the operation on the condition that it would be performed by the Respondent. It is the case of the prosecution that on 22nd December 1987 one Dr. A. K. Mukherjee operated on the complainant’s wife. It is the case of the prosecution that when the stomach was opened ascetic fluids oozed out of the abdomen. It is the case of the prosecution that Dr. A. K. Mukherjee contacted the Respondent who advised closing up the stomach. It is the case of the prosecution that Dr. A. K. Mukherjee accordingly closed the stomach and this resulted in intestinal fistula. It is the case of the prosecution that whenever the complainant’s wife ate or drank the same would come out of the wound. It is the case of the prosecution that the complainant’s wife required 20/25 dressings a day for more than 3 1/2 months in the hospital and thereafter till her death. It is the case of the prosecution that the complainant’s wife suffered terrible physical torture and mental agony. It is the case of the prosecution that the Respondent did not once examine the complainant’s wife after the operation. It is the case of the prosecution that the Respondent claimed that the complainant’s wife was not his patient. It is the case of the prosecution that the bill sent by the Bombay Hospital belied the Respondent case that the complainant’s wife was not his patient. The bill sent by the Bombay Hospital showed the fees charged by the Respondent. It is the case of the prosecution that the Maharashtra Medical Council has, in an inquiry, held the Respondent guilty of negligence and strictly warned him.”

“On 29th June 1998 the prosecution made an application to examine Dr. Greenberg through video-conferencing. The trial court allowed that application on 16th August 1999. The Respondent challenged that order in the High Court. The High Court has by the impugned order allowed the Criminal Application filed by the Respondent. Hence This Court was taken through various sections of the Criminal Procedure Code. Emphasis was laid on Section 273, Criminal Procedure Code. It was submitted that Section 273, Criminal Procedure Code does not provide for the taking of evidence by video conferencing. Emphasis was laid on the words “Except as otherwise provided” in Section 273 and it was submitted that unless there is an express provision to the contrary, the procedure laid down in Section 273 has to be followed as it is mandatory. It was submitted that Section 273 mandates that evidence “shall be taken in the presence of the accused”. It is submitted that the only exceptions, which come within the ambit of the words “except as otherwise provided” are Sections 284 to 290 (those dealing with issue of Commissions); Section 295 (affidavit in proof of conduct of public servant) and Section 296 (evidence of formal character on affidavit). It is submitted that the term “presence” in Section 273 must be interpreted to mean physical presence in flesh and blood in open Court. It was submitted that the only instances in which evidence may be taken in the absence of the Accused, under the Criminal Procedure Code are Sections 317 (provision for inquiries and trial being held in the absence of accused in certain cases) and 299 (record of evidence in the absence of the accused). It was submitted that as Section 273 is mandatory, the Section is required to be interpreted strictly. It was submitted that Section 273 must be given its contemporary meaning (Contemporanea exposition est optima et fortissimm – The contemporaneous exposition is the best and the strongest in law). It was submitted that video conferencing was not known and did not exist when the Criminal Procedure Code was enacted/amended. It was submitted that presence on a screen and recording of evidence by video conferencing was not contemplated by the Parliament at the time of drafting/amending the Criminal Procedure Code. It was submitted that when the Legislature intended to permit video conferencing, it has expressly provided for it, as is evident from the Ordinance passed by the State of Andhra Pradesh in December 2000 permitting the use of video conferencing under Sec. 167(2) Criminal Procedure Code in remand applications. It is pointed out that a similar amendment is being considered in Maharashtra. It is submitted that Section 273 is analogous to the Confrontation Clause set out in the VIth Amendment to the US Constitution. It is submitted that Courts in USA have held that video conferencing does not satisfy the requirements of the Confrontation Clause.these two Appeals.”

“Thus evidence can be both oral and documentary and electronic records can be produced as evidence. This means that evidence, even in criminal matters, can also be by way of electronic records. This would include video- conferencing.”

“Accordingly the impugned judgment is set aside. The Magistrate will now proceed to have the evidence of Dr. Greenberg recorded by way of video conferencing. As the trial has been pending for a long time the trial court is requested to dispose off the case as early as possible and in any case within one year from today. With these directions the Appeals stand disposed of. The Respondent shall pay to the State and the complainant the costs of these Appeals.”

In the above case the plaintiff filed a case against a doctor. The plaintiff’s wife had cancer so they used to consult with a doctor in USA but for some reason they started consulting with a doctor in India and he suggested for operation and they agreed on the condition that the operation will be conducted by this doctor but it was performed by another doctor and for his negligence the Complainant’s wife died. When the plaintiff filed the case in the court, a question arose in the court that video conference is valid or not. The Bombay High Court said that video conference evidence is not valid or cannot be done. Then he appealed to the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court has given a fair justice to the plaintiff. The Supreme Court held that video conference can be taken as evidence and there are provisions under Indian Evidence act,1872 to admit electronic records as evidence.

“International Planned vs Madhu Bala Nath on 7 January, 2016Delhi High Court”

“The present appeal impugns the order dated 02.07.2015 whereby the application of the defendant/appellant under Order XVIII Rules 3 & 4 of the Code of Civil Procedure (hereinafter referred to as the „Code‟) for permitting the recording of the statement of a witness through video conferencing was rejected.”

“The application was filed by the appellant for permission to record the testimony of the sole appellant‟s witness through audio and video link on the ground that the sole witness is based at London and is unable to travel to Delhi for her cross-examination. It was contended that the appellant is a charitable organization and is not in a position to afford the substantial expenditure required to be incurred for travel and stay of the sole witness to Delhi and further the presence of the said witness was necessary for various official commitments as she is the Head of the Human Resource which entails numerous responsibilities and the sole witness being female aged 54 years would have to suffer a lot of inconvenience to travel for her testimony to Delhi. In these circumstances, the application was filed for permission to record the deposition through audio and video conferencing.”

“We are not for a moment laying down that a witness can never be called to Court. There may be circumstances or situations where physical presence of a witness may be necessary and required by the Court, in such situations it would be obligatory on the witness to be present in Court. Where a witness or a party requests that the evidence of a witness may be recorded through video conferencing, the Court should be liberal in granting such a prayer. There may be situations where a witness even though within the city may still want the evidence to be recorded through video conferencing in order to save time or avoid inconvenience, the Court should take a pragmatic view.”

“ In view of the above, the impugned order is set aside. The application IA No.7927/2015 is allowed. The Appellant is permitted to record the testimony and cross-examination of its witness Ms Rosalind Miller through audio video conferencing subject to the following conditions”:-

“(i) Evidence of the witness Ms Rosalind Miller shall be recorded through video conferencing between Delhi, India and London, U.K.”

“(ii) In Delhi, the video conferencing shall be conducted in the facilities available in the Annexe Block of the Delhi High Court.”

“(iii) Mr. Girish Sharma, Registrar (Computers) of this court is appointed as the coordinator with regard to the technical aspects of video conferencing in India.”

“(iv)The Indian High Commissioner at London shall nominate a senior officer not below the rank of Deputy Secretary of India to facilitate video conferencing. The officer nominated by the Indian High Commission shall co-ordinate the video conferencing arrangements in London and shall remain present at the time of recording of the evidence of the witness Ms Rosalind Miller.”

“(v) The officer nominated by the Indian High Commissioner in terms of the direction at serial no.(iv) above shall ensure that apart from his own presence, only counsel for the Appellant/Defendant is present at the time of video conferencing. He shall ensure that no manner of prompting by word or signs or by any other mode is permitted.”

“(vi) The officer nominated by the Indian High Commission shall verify the identity of the witness before commencement of her examination.”

“(vii) As soon as the identification part is complete, oath will be administered by the Joint Registrar (J.R.) through the media as per Oaths Act, 1969.”

“(viii) The witness shall be examined during working hours of Indian Courts. The plea of any inconvenience on account of time difference between India and London shall not be allowed. However, the convenience of the Indian High Commission in London shall be taken into consideration in fixing the time and schedule.”

“(ix) The cross-examination, as far as practicable, be proceeded without any interruption and without granting unnecessary adjournments. However, discretion of the Court (J.R.) shall be respected.”

“This record shall be made available to the officer nominated by the Indian High Commissioner for the purpose of undertaking the video conferencing as it would be necessary for recording the statement and cross examination of the witness.”

“In case, the respondent is desirous of being physically present in London at the time of recording of the evidence, it shall be open for her to make arrangements on her own cost for appearance and her representation. The respondent shall ensure that prior intimation in this regard is filed in the Registry of this Court giving full particulars of the names of the persons as well as enclosing documents of authority in respect of the persons, who shall be representing them in the proceedings. The intimation in this regard as well as documents shall also be furnished to Indian High Commission in London.The appeal is allowed as above, leaving the parties to bear their own costs.”

In the above case, there was a dispute between the parties so the plaintiff filed a case against the defendant and there arose a question that video conference is valid or not in this case. The application was rejected by the inferior court then the plaintiff approached the High Court of Delhi and this court has accepted the application and said that video conference is valid, and it can be done. This court also mentioned that in certain cases it is not possible to produce the witness in the court so this type of video conferencing or any such equivalent records should be accepted by the court.

SeelamPrameela vs Ganta Mani Kumar on 19 July, 2019 Telangana High Court

“This Revision is filed under Article 227 of the Constitution of India challenging the order dt.23-05-2018 in I.A.No.625 of 2018 in F.C.O.P.Nos.892 of 2014 and 1557 of 2013 of the Principal Judge, Family Court, City Civil Court, Hyderabad. Petitioner herein had filed F.C.O.P.No.892 of 2014 against respondent for dissolution of the marriage between them which took place on 15-02-2012 and for other reliefs.”

“Respondent filed F.C.O.P.No.1557 of 2013 before the Family Court, City Civil Court, Hyderabad for restitution of conjugal rights against petitioner. Both the matters have been clubbed together.”

“Petitioner is presently employed in United States of America for employment purpose along with a son born to the parties. Petitioner is represented by her father / G.P.A. Holder. Petitioner’s plea in I.A.625 of 2018 She filed I.A.No.625 of 2018 giving the said reason and sought recording of evidence by video conference from her residence in the United States of America.”

“ In a situation where one or both of the parties to a matrimonial proceeding is living abroad, and is unable to come to India to give evidence on account of his/her employment there, and there is a risk of the party losing his/her employment if she were to return to India, it would be unjust to compel the said party to give up her job there so that he/she can appear on every date of adjournment in the Family Court in India where his/her case is pending. It is common knowledge that pendency in some of the Family Courts is very high and there is every possibility of the matter getting dragged on indefinitely.”

“I am also of the opinion that the petitioner cannot be penalized if her evidence could not be recorded if she was in India in the year 2018 because she admittedly attempted to file her documents through G.P.A. which was rejected and much later it was permitted.”

“For the aforesaid reasons, the impugned order is set aside; I.A.No.625 of 2018 is allowed; and the Principal Judge, Family Court, 9 MSR,J C.R.P.No.3228 of 2018 City Civil Court, Hyderabad is directed to record the chief- examination/cross-examination of the petitioner through video conferencing at the video conferencing facility available in City Civil Court, Hyderabad after fixing appropriate time with the consent of both parties an their counsel. Such evidence shall be recorded in the presence of counsel for petitioner at Hyderabad as well as counsel for respondent in the O.Ps. and such recording shall be done by the Presiding Judge of the Family Court within four (04) weeks from the date of receipt of copy of the order. Learned counsel for both parties shall inform the Presiding Judge of the Family Court of the date and time at which such video conferencing can be done within one week from the date of receipt of copy of the order, and the Chief Judge, City Civil Court, Hyderabad shall accord permission for recording of evidence of the witness through video conferencing, and the expenses in that regard shall be collected from the petitioner’s G.P.A. Holder in advance.”

“The Civil Revision Petition is allowed with the above directions. No costs. As a sequel, the miscellaneous petitions, if any pending, shall stand closed.”

In the above case, the petitioner lives outside India (USA) with her son. Here, the petitioner filed a case for dissolution of the marriage between them and for other reliefs. The defendant also filed a case in the family court for restitution of conjugal rights against the petitioner. The petitioner held that she won’t be able to appear in the court since she lives aboard with her son and holds a job there. Her prayer was respected by the High Court of Telangana and she was allowed to make video conference according to the conditions of the court.

Conclusion:

The topic discussed above has immense importance in recent days due to COVID-19 spreading across all states of India. There are different case laws discussed above which says that video conferences are admitted in the court as evidence. There are different provisions given under different Acts under which anyone can get the opportunity of admitting electronic records (video conference or any other electronic records as specified under different laws) as evidence if they are unable to produce themselves before the court.

Now let us look at video conferencing guidelines recently laid out by the Supreme Court of India and other High Courts of India to allow video conferencing in times of coronavirus in India.

VIDEO CONFERENCING NOTICES FROM THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA, AND CALCUTTA HIGH COURT

The Supreme Court of India is dealing with a suo moto case which is titled as In Re Guidelines for Court Functioning through Video Conferencing During Covid-19 Pandemichas also framed videoconferencing guidelines. Director General of National Informatics Centre (NIC) mentioned that three things are required to make videoconferencing such as good broadband connection, good devices and the conduct of people (that is to say that when one person is speaking others must put device on mute) and also said that NIC will frame guidelines on how to make videoconferencing and this will be forwarded to all the courts and lawyers.

The Supreme Court bench comprising of Chief Justice S.A. Bobde, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice L. Nageswara Rao in exercise of power under article 142 of the constitution issued several guidelines, they are:

VIDEO CONFERENCING GUIDELINES ISSUED BY THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA CIVIL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION

SUO MOTU WRIT (CIVIL) NO.5/2020

IN RE: GUIDELINES FOR COURT FUNCTIONING THROUGH VIDEO CONFERENCING DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC

O R D E R

  1. The recent outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in several countries, including India, has necessitated the immediate adoption of measures to ensure social distancing in order to prevent the transmission of the virus. The Supreme Court of India and High Courts have adopted measures to reduce the physical presence of lawyers, litigants, court staff, para legal personnel and representatives of the electronic and print media in courts across the country and to ensure the continued dispensation of justice.
  • Every individual and institution is expected to cooperate in the implementation of measures designed to reduce the transmission of the virus. The scaling down of conventional operations within the precincts of courts is a measure in that direction. Access to justice is fundamental to preserve the rule of law in the democracy envisaged by the Constitution of India. The challenges occasioned by the outbreak of COVID-19 have to be addressed while preserving the constitutional commitment to ensuring the delivery of and access to justice to those who seek it. It is necessary to ensure compliance with social distancing guidelines issued from time to time by various health authorities, Government of India and States. Court hearings in congregation must necessarily become an exception during this period.
  • Modern technology has enabled courts to enhance the quality and effectiveness of the administration of justice. Technology has facilitated advances in speed, accessibility and connectivity which enable the dispensation of justice to take place in diverse settings and situations without compromising the core legal principles of adjudication. Indian courts have been proactive in embracing advancement in technology in judicial proceedings. The Indian judiciary has incorporated Information and Communication Technology systems through the e-Courts Integrated Mission Mode Project (e-Courts Project) as part of the National e- Governance Plan (NeGP). The robust infrastructure in place has reduced conventional impediments and legal uncertainty surrounding the use of virtual courts. ICT enabled infrastructure is available across all courts including the district judiciary which constitutes the initial interface of the court system with the citizen.
  • The use of technology found judicial recognition in precedent of this Court in State of Maharashtra v Praful Desai1. This Court held that the term ‘evidence’ includes electronic evidence and that video conferencing may be used to record evidence. It observed that developments in technology have opened up the possibility of virtual courts which are similar to physical courts. The Court held:

“Advances in science and technology have now, so to say, shrunk the world. They now enable one to see and hear events, taking place far away, as they are actually taking place…Video conferencing is an advancement in science and technology which permits one to see, hear and talk with someone far away, with the same facility and ease as if he is present before you i.e. in your presence… In fact he/she is present before you on a screen. Except for touching one can see, hear and observe as if the party is in the same room. In video conferencing both parties are in presence of each other… Recording of such evidence would be as per “procedure established by law.”

  • Faced with the unprecedented and extraordinary outbreak of a pandemic, it is necessary that Courts at all levels respond to the call of social distancing and ensure that court premises do not contribute to the spread of virus. This is not a matter of discretion but of duty. Indeed, Courts throughout the country particularly at the level of the Supreme Court and the High Courts have employed video conferencing for dispensation of Justice and as guardians of the Constitution and as protectors of individual liberty governed by the rule of law. Taking cognizance of the measures adopted by this court and by the High Courts and District Courts, it is necessary for this court to issue directions by taking recourse to the jurisdiction conferred by Article 142 of the Constitution.
  • Therefore, in exercise of the powers conferred on the Supreme Court of India by Article 142 of the Constitution of India to make such orders as are necessary for doing complete justice, we direct that:
    • All measures that have been and shall be taken by this Court and by the High Courts, to reduce the need for the physical presence of all stakeholders within court premises and to

secure the functioning of courts in consonance with social distancing guidelines and best public health practices shall be deemed to be lawful;

  1. The Supreme Court of India and all High Courts are authorized to adopt measures required to ensure the robust functioning of the judicial system through the use of video conferencing technologies; and
    1. Consistent with the peculiarities of the judicial system in every state and the dynamically developing public health situation, every High Court is authorised to determine the modalities which are suitable to the temporary transition to the use of video conferencing technologies;
    1. The concerned courts shall maintain a helpline to ensure that any complaint in regard to the quality or audibility of feed shall be communicated during the proceeding or immediately after its conclusion failing which no grievance in regard to it shall be entertained thereafter.
    1. The District Courts in each State shall adopt the mode of Video Conferencing prescribed by the concerned High Court.
    1. The Court shall duly notify and make available the facilities for video conferencing for such litigants who do not have the means or access to video conferencing facilities. If necessary, in appropriate cases courts may appoint an amicus-curiae and make video conferencing facilities available to such an advocate.
    1. Until appropriate rules are framed by the High Courts, video conferencing shall be mainly employed for hearing arguments whether at the trial stage or at the appellate stage. In no case shall evidence be recorded without the mutual consent of both the parties by video conferencing. If it is necessary to record evidence in a Court room the presiding officer shall ensure that appropriate distance is maintained between any two individuals in the Court.
    1. The presiding officer shall have the power to restrict entry of persons into the court room or the points from which the arguments are addressed by the advocates. No presiding officer shall prevent the entry of a party to the case unless such party is suffering from any infectious illness. However, where the number of litigants are many the presiding officer shall have the power to restrict the numbers. The presiding officer shall in his discretion adjourn the proceedings where it is not possible to restrict the number.
  • The above directions are issued in furtherance of the commitment to the delivery of justice. The cooperation of all courts, judges, litigants, parties, staff and other stakeholders is indispensable in the

successful implementation of the above directions to ensure that the judiciary rises to face the unique challenge presented by the outbreak of COVID-19. These directions shall operate until further orders.

  • List the matter after four weeks.

……………………………………………CJI

[ S.A.BOBDE ]

………………………………………………J. [ D.Y. CHANDRACHUD ]

……………………………………………J. [ L. NAGESWARA RAO ]

NEW DELHI; APRIL 06, 2020.

VIDEO CONFERENCING GUIDELINES ISSUED BY THE CALUCTTA HIGH COURT, WEST BENGAL

IN THE HIGH COURT AT CALCUTTA APPELLATE SIDE

NOTIFICATION

No.1506-RG                                                                                 Dated March 28, 2020

In furtherance of the steps already taken to combat the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and in continuation of the directions of the Hon’ble the Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court vide Notification No.1498-RG issued on 24th March, 2020 and in light of orders of a Nation-wide lockdown declared by the Government of West Bengal as well as Government of India, the Hon’ble the Chief Justice of this High Court has been pleased to further direct, as follows :-

  1. In view of the inconvenience to be faced by the lawyers, litigant etc. in physically attending court proceeding due to lockdown and to avoid overcrowding in court precincts, court proceeding of extreme urgent matters may be conducted via video-conferencing through skype conference call;
  2. For all matters involving extreme urgency, the Advocate-on-Record/Party-in- person is first required to file the scanned copy of the petition/application and documents alongwith Form-A or Form-B, whichever is necessary, through the e- mail rghc_cal@rediffmail.com together with a prayer for exemption from filing duly affirmed affidavit in the prevailing circumstances with an undertaking that deficit court fees will be paid subsequently, within 48 hours of opening the High Court, after attaining normalcy. Thereafter, and upon completion of all formalities of filing such petition/application, the AOR/Party-in-person is required to file separately a signed and verified application containing a synopsis of extreme urgency through the said e-mail latest by 2:00 pm on the day, preceeding the day of sitting of the Hon’ble Benches, subject to any leave to be granted by the Hon’ble Bench to the contrary;
  • The application must inter-alia clearly contain the case-details, Bench-details, contact-details of the AOR/party in-person including e-mail id, mobile number and alternate number(s), residence/office address with Pin Code and Police Station. The application must also contain a separate paragraph giving consent that the matter may be taken up through the Video-Conferencing mode. In the application, the AOR/Party-in-Person must specify as to whether he would link through own desktop/laptop/mobile or would prefer to avail such facility in the High Court premises;
  • For the purpose of video-conferencing, the AOR/Party-in-person are hereby also requested to mention their ‘Skype’ contact details, alongwith other details in their mentioning application, as per procedure detailed in para 2 and 3 above;
  • Upon approval of the urgency by the Hon’ble Presiding Judge of the Bench(es), the case(s) would be enlisted in the cause-list to be published on the website of the Hon’ble High Court in ‘Notification’ column by evening hours on the day preceeding the sitting of the Bench. The list may also be published on the selfsame day upon leave of the Bench;
  • In all cases taken on the board, an intimation regarding time of sitting of the Hon’ble Bench(es) and approximate time of the hearing of their case(s) shall be sent to the concerned AOR/Party-in-Person on the Mobile Number and e-mail as mentioned in the application. It is, therefore, desired that the AOR/Party-in- Person must keep his mobile free around the time indicated, as the High Court Registry will call on the mobile number mentioned in their application when the matter is to be called for hearing through video-conferencing, as per cause-list;
  • If the Advocate/Party-in-Person is unable to connect through video- conferencing due to non-availability of hardware/network on any given date, the matter would be listed on the next date of the sitting of any Bench and the AOR/Party-in-Person may appear through Video-Conferencing facility being made available in the High Court premises and for that they have to mention in the application their desire to do so;
  • Since the prevailing situation demands that the persons be discouraged from undertaking any kind of journey/travel, the Registry is taking all steps necessary to conduct the aforesaid hearings through remote VC links, and the AORs/Parties-in-persons are advised to refrain from exercising the option of participating in the hearing through VC facility available at the High Court premises for the present, as that would entail unnecessary and avoidable travel through public spaces;
  • The Registry would act only upon such e-mails as are sent to the mail-id as specified above, and reply would be sent, as may be required, to the same email id from where the request would have come. Hence, AOR/Party-in-Person are requested not to send such e-mails to any other mail ids;
  • The Registry would keep only such offices open with skeletal staff as may be required to facilitate the holding of the Hon’ble Bench for extreme urgent cases or as directed from time to time, and for facilitating all matters that may be connected to smoothly holding of such Hon’ble Bench, by video-conferencing or otherwise.

Sd/-

(RAI CHATTOPADHYAY)

Registrar General, High Court, Calcutta

IN THE HIGH COURT AT CALCUTTA APPELLATE SIDE

NOTIFICATION

No.1513-RG                                                                                         Dated April 9, 2020

In partial modification of the paragraph 2 of the Notification No.1506-RG dated 28.03.2020 it is hereby notified that henceforth in the event of the matters involving extreme urgency the Advocate-on-Record/Party-in-person is to file the legibly scanned copy of the petition/application and documents alongwith Form-A or Form-B, whichever is necessary, through the email chcfiling@gmail.com together with other application latest by 5:00 pm, two days preceeding the day of sitting of the Hon’ble Benches, subject to any leave to be granted by the Hon’ble Bench to the contrary.

All the other parts of the said Notification dated 28.2.2020, except which are modified earlier vide Notification No.1510-RG dated 07.4.2020, will remain the same.

All communications relating to filing of cases shall be made exclusively to the email id, as noted above, from the time of publication of this Notification and any communication to the contrary, made to any other email address, excepting the above, shall not be considered for listing on any day of sitting of the Hon’ble Special Benches.

The AOR/Party-in-person are hereby requested to mention their alternative Skype or WhatsApp contact details, if any, alongwith other details in their mentioning application, in terms of the Notification dated 28.03.2020, to obviate the inconvenience that may be faced due to unforeseen networking/linkage issue while using the “Microsoft Teams”.

Sd/-

(RAI CHATTOPADHYAY)

Registrar General, High Court, Calcutta

IN THE HIGH COURT AT CALCUTTA APPELLATE SIDE

NOTIFICATION

No. 1523 – RG.                                                                                                                               Date: 17.04.2020.

In furtherance of this Hon’ble Court’s Notifications issued in connection with the Practice and Procedure for E­filing, it is hereby notified for information of all concerned that the Hon’ble the Chief Justice, High Court, Calcutta has been pleased to further notify the following, for E­filing and smooth functioning of the Hon’ble Court through Video Conferencing:

  1. Learned Advocates will appear in Robes for the Video Conference. It is clarified that wearing the gown is not mandatory.
  • Advocate on Record/Party in person filing any application/petition/affidavit shall have to provide his/her E­mail address and Mobile Number for any communication.
  • The application, including the annexure/s, shall preferably be of 15 pages. Annexure/s beyond 15 pages if any, should be comprised within a separate file.
  • Any document including Memorandum of Evidence submitted by any non­applicant till 12 noon on the preceding day of the sitting of Hon’ble Benches shall only be entertained. This should preferably be of 15 pages maximum. Any page in excess of 15, should be made in a separate file.
  • Advocate on Record/Party in person shall download and install ‘Microsoft Teams’ in his/her Laptop/Android Phones/IOS device. An invitation will be sent to the Advocate on Record/Party in person concerned in his/her E­mail address communicated to the High Court by him/her at the time of filing of cases/objections, if any.
  • Advocate on Record/Party in person shall join the Video Conference as a Guest by clicking the link supplied by the High Court and once he/she is connected, he/she should activate the Video and Audio appearing in his/her screen.
  • If any matter is called on but the learned Advocate/party in person could not join the proceeding, he/she shall wait for his/her turn till the list is exhausted.
  • The matters listed on a particular day before a particular Bench may be distributed for the same day amongst other existing Benches or Benches to be constituted by the Hon’ble Chief Justice.
  1. All the documents including petitions filed by any party shall be dated. Undated petition/documents shall not be entertained.

By Order,

Sd/­

[Rai Chattopadhyay] Registrar General.

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