Filing of digital pleadings and documents should now be encouraged before all courts, including the Family Courts, to capitalise upon the learning and experience derived during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Delhi High Court said (Anand Vaid vs Preety Vaid vs Ors).
A Division Bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli observed that digital filing will save resources which would otherwise have to be used to digitize physical records.
“The learning and experience derived during this period, in our view, should be capitalised upon, and apart from filing in the physical mode, the filing of digital pleadings and documents should also be encouraged. The same would save the resources, which the Court would have to otherwise deploy in digitizing the pleadings, documents, and records,” the Court stated.
The Court noted that during the pandemic, the State provided “substantial infrastructure” to courts to function virtually and lawyers also got reasonably adept at the online filing of cases, and courts also proficiently took up cases through online mode.
“During the Pandemic, the State also provided substantial infrastructure to enable the Courts to function through online mode. The lawyering community has also got reasonably adept at filing of cases during this period through the online/ electronic mode, and the Courts have also been proficiently taking up cases through online mode,” the Court stated.
The order was passed by the Court while dealing with a petition seeking directions to Family Courts to allow recording of evidence via video conferencing.
Since courts were scheduled to resume normal functioning from March 15 onwards, the Court opined that there was no need to keep the petition pending any further.
Disposing of the plea, the Court directed the Delhi government and the Delhi High Court to examine the Standard Operating Procedure provided by the counsel for the petitioner i.e. advocate Ankur Mahindro.
The authorities shall take their own decisions regarding simultaneous filing of digital pleadings/records, and digitization of pending cases, in the light of the observations made in the order, the Court added.
The Court noted that in the present case, several orders were passed by it to deal with the issues raised by the petitioner.
Pursuant to the orders passed in the petition, last year, the Aam Aadmi Party government had approved proposals by lower courts and sanctioned over Rs 15 crore for the same.
While Rs 1, 44, 59,000 were approved towards the procurement of 761 Cisco Webex licenses for district courts, proposal with respect to the upgrading and procurement of 23 vehicles for judicial officers was also stated to be in the pipeline.
The Court had also pulled up the Delhi government for its “indifferent approach”. After being dismayed at the government’s lack of alacrity, the Court had even directed that an amount of Rs 2.52 crore be released from its own budget.