Keeping in mind the restrictions caused by the ongoing lockdown, the Delhi High Court has directed that in bail matters, there will be no insistence on filing of the signed/attested vakalatanama, affidavits or applications where the applicant is in jail and/or of the family members of such an applicant, reside outside Delhi.
The Single Bench of Justice Asha Menon further ordered that the physically signed and attested vakalatanama of a person, who is in custody or not residing in Delhi will not be insisted upon by the
Facilitation Centre in any of the District Courts in Delhi and nor will bail applications be not accepted only for this reason.
In the present matter, the online filing of bail application was rejected by the Facilitation Centre of Dwarka Courts on two grounds, namely, that the Vakalatnama was not duly signed and attested either by the accused himself or his family members, and secondly, that the application was neither bookmarked nor in searchable format.
The Petitioner submitted that despite explaining the difficulty in getting an attested/signed Vakalatnama, as the counsel resided in Gurugram and the family of the applicant resided in Ghaziabad and the borders were sealed, the online filing was rejected.
It was also argued by her Petitioner that it is impossible for a person to physically sign the Certificate when he's in judicial custody.
Appearing for the state, Mr Rahul Mehra submitted that the District Courts be directed to follow the practice of the High Court of Delhi even in respect of the filing of Vakalatnamas as these guidelines by the High Court were intended to facilitate litigants and lawyers in these extraordinary times.
After taking into consideration the procedure followed by different trial courts for e-filing and filing of the Vakalatnama, the court observed that case presents peculiar facts which ought to have been handled by the Facilitation Centre, Dwarka Courts with greater sensitivity.
The court said:
'The concern of the District Courts of preventing unauthorized filing of bail applications seems to be rather misplaced, for a bail application is moved for the benefit of a person who is in jail. At the worst, if the bail application is rejected, no court would bar the filing of a fresh bail application with proper justification and the concerned court would again dispose it of as per law'.
The court further observed that when the peculiar circumstances of this case were brought to the notice of the Facilitation Centre, Dwarka Courts, a further undertaking could have been taken through the advocate that not only would the duly signed, verified and attested petition/application be filed in original, but a duly signed Vakalatnama would also be filed within two weeks of the withdrawal of the lockdown.
Therefore, the court directed the Facilitation Centre, Dwarka Courts, through the District Judge, South-West, Dwarka Courts to forthwith accept the bail application with an undertaking by the counsel to file the Vakalatnama duly signed within two weeks of the withdrawal of the lockdown. The bail application should be listed before the Duty Sessions Judge without further delay.
While noting that instead of physical signing of the Certificate, an email mentioning the appointing of the counsel and an undertaking to sign all documents within two weeks of lifting of the lockdown would suffice, the court highlighted that Aadhaar number and phone/mobile number should also be recorded in such email/authority letter.
Such emails, the court directed, should be accepted without insistence on signatures, as it may not be possible for everyone to append their digital signatures or send the scanned copy.
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