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Public Institutions Should Make Their Orders Available Online As Part Of Good Governance: Delhi High Court

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
16 Dec 2020 9:42 AM GMT
Public Institutions Should Make Their Orders Available Online As Part Of Good Governance: Delhi High Court
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"Availability of orders online would obviate the need for litigants to file petitions wherein the only prayer is for making orders available"

The Delhi High Court recently observed that all institutions, especially those providing services to the public, should make it a point to make all their orders, notices and other documents available online. The order was passed by a Single Bench of Justice Prathiba M. Singh in a writ petition filed by M/S Civicon Engineering Contracting India Pvt Ltd., aggrieved by non-supply of an...

The Delhi High Court recently observed that all institutions, especially those providing services to the public, should make it a point to make all their orders, notices and other documents available online.

The order was passed by a Single Bench of Justice Prathiba M. Singh in a writ petition filed by M/S Civicon Engineering Contracting India Pvt Ltd., aggrieved by non-supply of an order passed by EPFO (Employee's Provident Fund Organization), for default in payment of contribution by the employer.

The Petitioner had submitted that its representatives had visited to the EPFO office multiple times to obtain the order dated 3rd June, 2019, which had subsequently led to the issuance of a demand notice on 6th November, 2020 but, in vain.

The Respondent authority on the other hand contended that the said order dated 3rd June 2019 had been communicated to the Petitioner by speed post and that the Petitioner was simply making excuses to overcome the objections on limitations.

The Court in this matter shifted its focus to the fact that public departments such as the EPFO should have their orders and notices readily available online. The Court further added that the non-availability of such orders, especially during a Pandemic where all offices are operating in an virtual mode, is unjustified.

In this backdrop, it has directed the Central Provident Fund Commissioner to pass 'practice directions' in respect of uploading of all orders, passed by officials/authorities who adjudicate disputes, online.

The Court said,

"it is directed that the Central Provident Fund Commissioner ('CPFC') shall pass immediate practice directions in respect of uploading of all orders which are passed by the Regional Provident Fund Commissioners (RPFCs), Assistant Provident Fund Commissioners (APFC), Central Government Industrial Tribunal (CGIT) and any other officials/authorities who adjudicate disputes."

It added,

"The said practice directions shall stipulate the manner of passing orders, timelines for uploading, timelines for communication to parties etc., which shall be adhered to by all the adjudicating authorities/officers. The orders ought to be, in addition, communicated by email to the parties while simultaneously being uploaded on the EPFO website."

To ensure that these directions are implemented, the Court asked for a compliance affidavit to be filed by the CPFC within six weeks, i.e. by 11th February, 2021.

The Court said that having such orders readily available online would not result in petitions such as the present one being filed in a court, where the only goal of the Petitioner is to obtain the copy of an order from the concerned authority.

"The availability of orders online would obviate the need for litigants to file petitions such as the present one wherein the only prayer is for making orders available," said the Court.

The Bench emphasised that all Courts and Tribunals already make their orders available online. So, every other public institution, authorities and bodies should follow suit and make every order and other documents available online. They added that such an integration of technology to provide better services constitute a part of the good governance of the institutions.

"The necessity for the same, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic needs no emphasis. It is part of good governance of all institutions, especially authorities and bodies performing public functions to provide services to the maximum extent possible by integrating technology in their everyday working. The EPFO need not be an exception," the Court said.

Case Title: M/S Civicon Engineering Contracting India Pvt. Ltd. v. Central Board Of Trustees & Ors.

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