A PIL has been filed before the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court, seeking a direction upon the HC through its Registrar General, to frame comprehensive video conferencing Rules to facilitate conducting of virtual trial viz. taking of evidence, framing of charge etc.
The petition has been filed by practicing Advocate SM Singh Royekwar, seeking time-bound framing of Rules for full functioning of Courts/ Tribunals/ Subordinate Courts through VC/ Online Mode, akin to the rules framed by the High Courts of Delhi, Karanataka, Madras, Tripura etc.
He has pointed out that even though the latest guidelines issued by the High Court on June 3, 2020 provide for use of video conference mechanism for hearing at District Courts, it does not provide for the "procedure" for the same.
"In the absence of all comprehensive mechanism of Virtual Conduct of case/ online mode, the litigants, who cases are on the evidence stage, stand deprived of their legal right of trial/hearing in comparison to those whose cases are listed for final hearings/ arguments; As the cases on the stage of final hearing/ arguments are being given preference to," the plea states.
It is asserted that a "uniform" procedure for taking evidence, judicial remands, framing of charges, etc. is the need of the hour.
The Petitioner has submitted that the High Court is empowered under Articles 225 and 227 of the Constitution read with Section 122 of the CPC, to introduce procedural mechanism for VC hearings.
"Article 227 (2) (b) of the Constitution of India, in clear terms empowers the Hon'ble High Court to make and issue general rules and prescribe forms for regulating the practice and proceedings of courts, over which it exercises its superintendence," it is submitted.
Reliance is also placed on the Supreme Court's direction in In Re: Guidelines For Court Functioning Through Video Conferencing During Covid-19 Pandemic where a three-Judges bench had directed that "Until appropriate rules are framed by the High Courts", video conferencing shall be mainly employed for hearing arguments whether at the trial stage or at the appellate stage. The Top Court had further instructed that "District Courts in each State shall adopt the mode of Video Conferencing prescribed by the concerned High Court".
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