Litigants Should Be Allowed To Appear Virtually If Court Thinks Their Presence Is Required : Supreme Court

Update: 2024-05-21 09:00 GMT
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Observing that the personal presence of the litigant suffering from ailments can be sought through a virtual medium when there's a facility in the High Court to appear through a virtual mode, the Supreme Court on Monday (May 20) provided a relief to the litigant by staying an operation of the Calcutta High Court's order which had directed the personal appearance of the litigant.The Vacation...

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Observing that the personal presence of the litigant suffering from ailments can be sought through a virtual medium when there's a facility in the High Court to appear through a virtual mode, the Supreme Court on Monday (May 20) provided a relief to the litigant by staying an operation of the Calcutta High Court's order which had directed the personal appearance of the litigant.

The Vacation Bench comprising Justices Dipankar Datta and Satish Chandra Sharma questioned the impugned order of the Calcutta High Court calling for the personal appearance of the petitioner on the next date of hearing, i.e., 22nd May 2024, when their presence isn't even required in the case.

“We are also at loss to comprehend as to why despite the advancement of science and technology and with the introduction of facilities for virtual hearing in the High Courts, the Court did not consider it desirable to grant liberty to the two petitioners to appear before it through the virtual mode.”, the court said.

“The dispute that the High Court is seized of arises out of a marital discord between the spouses and the situation, prima facie, was not such so as to call for the Court's insistence for personal presence of both the petitioners including the ailing petitioner no.2 by taking an arduous journey from a distant place like Mumbai (to Kolkata) despite his medical conditions. If the Court thought it fit to interact and bring about a settlement between the parties, an attempt to achieve it by allowing the petitioners to attend proceedings through the virtual mode ought to have been made.”, the court added.

Petitioner no.2 underwent an organ transplant in the recent past, he is afflicted by other ailments too calling for surgery thus making it inadvisable for him to travel to Kolkata to attend court proceedings physically. Moreover, petitioner no.1 had physically appeared before the Court earlier yet, she too has been ordered to be produced in court by the police without apparent justification.

“The impugned order is bound to operate harshly against the petitioners. We expect the Court to exercise restraint unless any party repeatedly acts in breach of its order to undermine its dignity, prestige and majesty, thereby attracting the contempt jurisdiction. Exercise of discretion judiciously could have prevented the proceedings from reaching this Court.”, the court observed.

Based on the above premise, the court stayed the operation of the order requiring the personal appearance of both petitioners on 22nd May 2024 and granted them the liberty to appear before the High Court through a virtual mode.

Case Title: BASUDHA CHAKRABORTY & ANR. VERSUS NEETA CHAKRABORTY

Citation : 2024 LiveLaw (SC) 401

Click here to read/download the order

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