Filing digital pleadings and documents should now be encouraged before all courts, including the Family Courts, capitalize upon the learning and experience derived during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Delhi HC said (Anand Vaid vs Preety Vaid vs Ors). A Division Bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli observed that digital filing would save resources that would otherwise have to digitize physical records.
"The learning and experience derived during this period, in our view, should be capitalized upon, and apart from filing in the physical model, the filing of digital pleadings and documents should also be encouraged. The same would save the resources, which the Court would have to otherwise deploy in digitizing the pleadings, documents, and records," the Court stated.
The Court noted that during the pandemic, the State provided "substantial infrastructure" to courts to function virtually, and lawyers also got reasonably adept at the online filing of cases, and courts also proficiently took up cases through online mode.
"During the Pandemic, the State also provided substantial infrastructure to enable the Courts to function through online mode. The lawyering community has also got reasonably adept at the filing of cases during this period through the online/ electronic mode, and the Courts have also been proficiently taking up cases through online mode," the Court stated.
The Court passed the order while dealing with a petition seeking directions to Family Courts to record evidence via video conferencing.
Because courts were scheduled to resume normal functioning from March 15 onwards, the Court opined no need to keep the petition pending any further. Disposing the plea, the Court directed the Delhi government and the Delhi High Court to examine the Standard Operating Procedure provided by the petitioner's counsel, i.e., advocate Ankur Mahindra.
The authorities shall take their own decisions about the simultaneous filing of digital pleadings/records and digitization of pending cases, in the light of the observations made in the order, the Court added. The Court noted that several orders were passed by it to deal with the petitioner's issues in the present case. Under orders passed in the petition last year, the Aam Aadmi Party government had approved proposals by lower courts and sanctioned over INR 15 crore for the same. While INR 1, 44, 59,000 were approved towards the procurement of 761 Cisco Webex licenses for district courts, a proposal for the upgrading and procurement of 23 vehicles for judicial officers was also stated to be in the pipeline. The Court had also pulled up the Delhi government for its "indifferent approach".
Status: After being dismayed at the government's lack of willingness, the Court had even directed that an amount of INR 2.52 crore be released from its budget.
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