Supreme Court: With a view to provide an alternative to seeking transfer of proceedings on account of inability of a party to contest proceedings at a place away from their ordinary residence on the ground that if proceedings are not transferred it will result in denial of justice, the bench of A.K. Goel and U.U. Lalit, Jj held that in matrimonial or custody matters or in proceedings between parties to a marriage or arising out of disputes between parties to a marriage, wherever the defendants/respondents are located outside the jurisdiction of the court, the court where proceedings are instituted, may examine whether it is in the interest of justice to incorporate any safeguards for ensuring that summoning of defendant/respondent does not result in denial of justice.
Availability of video conferencing facility; availability of legal aid service; deposit of cost for travel, lodging and boarding in terms of Order XXV CPC; E-mail address/phone number, if any, at which litigant from out station may communicate, were some of the safeguards suggested by the Court.
The Bench noticed that transfer is not always a solution acceptable to both the parties. It may be appropriate that available technology of video conferencing is used where both the parties have equal difficulty and there is no place which is convenient to both the parties. The Court said that wherever the facility of video conferencing is available, it ought to be fully utilized and all the High Courts should issue appropriate administrative instructions to regulate the use of video conferencing for certain category of cases.
The Bench further added that to combat the issue of ignorance about availability of suitable legal services, Legal Aid Committee of every district should make available selected panel of advocates whose discipline and quality can be suitably regulated and who are ready to provide legal aid at a specified fee. Such panels should be notified on the websites of the District Legal Services Authorities/State Legal Services Authorities/National Legal Services Authority. This may enhance access to justice consistent with Article 39A of the Constitution.
It was also said that every district court must have at least one e-mail ID. Administrative instructions for directions can be issued to permit the litigants to access the court, especially when litigant is located outside the local jurisdiction of the Court. A designated officer/manager of a district court may suitably respond to such e-mail in the manner permitted as per the administrative instructions. Similarly, a manager/ information officer in every district court may be accessible on a notified telephone during notified hours as per the instructions. [Krishna Veni Nagam v. Harish Nagam, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 236, decided on 09.03.2017]