While exercising its powers under Articles 225 and 227 of the Constitution, the Delhi High Court has published the new Video Conferencing Rules to consolidate, unify and streamline the procedure relating to the use of video conferencing for courts.
Published on June 01, these rules are officially called 'High Court of Delhi Rules for Video Conferencing for Courts 2020', and will be applicable in all those courts which the High Court in due course will notify.
At the outset, the Rules declare that all proceedings conducted by a Court via video conferencing shall be judicial proceedings and all the courtesies and protocols applicable to a physical Court shall apply to these virtual proceedings.
All relevant statutory provisions applicable to judicial proceedings including provisions of the CPC, CrPC, Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, Indian Evidence Act, 1872 (Evidence Act), and Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act), shall apply to proceedings conducted by video conferencing, and the court shall be adopting such technological advances as may become available from time to time.
A person who is required to join the proceedings through VC has to show his government recognised identity proof through email. Unauthorised recording of proceedings by any entity is prohibited.
The Rules stipulate the presence of a Coordinator both at the Court Point (courtroom) and Remote Point (place where any person or persons are required to be present or appear through a video link) to ensure proper and seamless carrying out of recording of evidence and proceedings through VC.
These Coordinators also have to ensure that lawyers are ready 30 minutes prior to the scheduled time and that person being examined is not prompted, tutored, coaxed, induced or coerced in any manner by any person and that the person being examined does not refer to any document, script or device without the permission of the concerned Court during the examination.
'On the completion of video conferencing, if a Remote User believes that she/he were prejudiced due to poor video and/or audio quality, the Remote
User shall immediately inform the Coordinator at the Court Point, who shall, in turn, communicate this information to the Court without any delay. The Court shall consider the grievance and if it finds substance in the grievance may declare the hearing to be incomplete and the parties may be asked to reconnect or make a physical appearance in Court.', the Rules state.
Apart from laying down general procedure, the Rules also lay down guidelines for judicial remand, the framing of charge, the examination of accused and Proceedings under Section 164 of the CrPC.
The cost of proceedings and recording of evidence through VC shall be borne by the party requesting for the same in civil cases, and in criminal cases, the onus of costs will be decided by the court.
The Rules further make it clear that to observe the requirement of an open Court proceeding, members of the public will be allowed to view Court hearings conducted through video conferencing, except proceedings ordered for reasons recorded in writing to be conducted in-camera. The Court shall endeavour to make available sufficient links (consistent with available bandwidth) for accessing the proceedings.
In order to ensure proper proceedings, the court shall satisfy itself that the Advocate, Required Person or any other participant that the Court deems necessary at the Remote Point or the Court Point can be seen and heard clearly and can see and hear the Court.
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