The Delhi High Court has issued notice in a petition seeking directions to Family Courts to allow recording of evidence via video conferencing during COVID-19 pandemic. The notice was issued by a Division Bench of Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw and Asha Menon.
The petitioner has been locked in a matrimonial proceeding, for dissolution of marriage with his wife on the ground of cruelty and adultery before the Family Courts at Delhi. He had been aggrieved from the recording of evidence in the said proceedings being held up on account of prevalent national lockdown in the wake of Covid-19, and the functioning of the court from physical court rooms having come to a standstill.
He thus moved the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, seeking a direction for recording of evidence in his proceeding or other such proceedings as may be feasible, via video conferencing.
The Petitioner also clarified that he was not challenging the existing circulars and notifications on the functioning of Family Courts and was only desirous of supplementing the same.
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Considering the stand of the Petitioner’s wife that she was not agreeable to recording of evidence through virtual mode, the Court observed,
The counsel for the petitioner, perhaps anticipating the aforesaid stand has also given the petition the colour of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) and also sought the relief of, direction to all the Family Courts to, during the restricted functioning of the courts owing to Covid-19 pandemic, allow recording of evidence via video conferencing, either by the Presiding Judge of the Family Court himself/herself or by issuance of a Commission.
The Court further observed,
We appreciate the effort of Ankur Mahindro, Advocate who, instead of indulging in armchair criticism, has as a member of the Bar taken a constructive step as is indeed expected from the members of the Bar, for exploring the possibilities of better and more efficient functioning of the courts in spite of a large number of prevalent restrictions and in addition to the initiative of the courts themselves.
The Court stated that guidelines for the conduct of court proceedings through remote sites were already wide enough to take care of the situation that has arisen on account of COVID-19. Adding further the court said,
Even if the same are required to be supplemented, keeping in view the prevalent times, the said aspect can be considered in this petition.
The Court thus issued notice to the Petitioner’s wife, Delhi Government, Family Courts (HQ), High Court of Delhi and the Coordination Committee of All District Courts Bar Associations. The matter would be heard next by the appropriate Roster Bench on June 4.
Advocates Ankur Mahindro, Ankush Satija, Sanjoli Mehrotra appeared for the Petitioner while Advocate Rohit Kumar Modi appeared for the Petitioner’s wife. Standing Counsel Anupam Srivastava appeared for Delhi Government.
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