The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Tuesday clarified that if any Judge faces technical problem during hearing of cases via video conferencing, the proper course would be to bring the same to the notice of the Registrar General of the High Court.
"Running of the High Court on the administrative side cannot be permitted to be taken up by each and every Judge on the judicial side as he thinks fit as that would lead to collapse of the system of the administration of the High Court," the division bench of Chief Justice Ravi Shanker Jha and Justice Arun Palli said while setting aside the order of a Single Judge whereby orders pertaining to administrative side of the High Court were passed during hearing of two criminal matters.
Discouraging such practice the bench said,
"We are of the considered and firm opinion that the learned Single Judge exceeded his jurisdiction in issuing directions purely relating to the administration of the High Court "in a criminal matter" as the extra ordinary and inherent powers of the Court cannot be invoked in purely administrative matters. Judicial powers cannot be invoked to run the administration of the High Court, which task vests in the Chief Justice or in the Full Court of the High Court and is regulated by Rules and instructions issued in that regard."
The court noted that issues regarding the problems arising in the video conferencing were neither involved nor raised in the criminal matters before the single Judge. In such circumstances, the division bench said, if any inconvenience was faced by the learned Single Judge owing to lack of any technical/ secretarial assistance, the proper course that should have been adopted was to bring the problem to the notice of the Registrar General of this Court for its resolution.
The observations were made in an appeal preferred by the High Court Registry against the order of the Single Judge to the extent the Technical Staff of the High Court was directed to ensure that every case is available on-line on the computer by downloading the cause list onto the laptop/computer and make an icon on the desktop of that computer as also download the pleadings of all the cases listed on that day onto the computer and make individual icons on the desktop so that the Court can access each case at the click of the mouse.
While setting aside the impugned order in part, the division bench clarified that the role of the technical staff attached to the Computer Committee and the task vis-a-vis the computerization of the High Court is "limited".
"The role of the technical official deputed for managing the video conferencing is confined only to sort out the technical glitches, if any, concerning connectivity or audio/video disturbances during the court proceedings," the bench said.
"The technical staff of this Court are fully skilled/trained to deal with any technical snag/issue during the video conferencing but not equipped to manage the procedural functioning of the Court which is a specialized task of a regular court staff. In the circumstances, we are of the considered opinion that the impugned directions deserve to be set aside."
For the purpose of downloading pleadings, etc., the court has affirmed that it is the Secretarial Staff that is responsible.
Case Title: Punjab and Haryana High Court through its Registrar (Computerization) v. Zahur Haider Zaidi & Ors.
Case No.: LPA No. 401/2020 (O&M)
Quorum: Chief Justice Ravi Shanker Jha and Justice Arun Palli
Appearance: Advocate Kanwal Goel (for Applicant); Addl. Advocate General Deepak Balyan (for State)
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