The Apex Court on Friday 10th of July took a decision to use technology more in judicial proceedings. Keeping in mind the prevailing pandemic situation of covid-19 the Court decided that now the Court summons and notices can be served on persons through emails, fax, and instant messaging applications like whatsapp.
The Apex Court decided to take the full advantage of the technology and thus decided the online process of serving notice, summons. The Top Court had earlier taken suo-motu (on its own) cognizance of the difficulties faced by lawyers and litigants during this lockdown. As due to the lockdown people are told to maintain social distancing by staying at home and thus preventing the virus from spreading. The apex Court had decided to extend the period of limitation prescribed under laws for initiating arbitral proceedings and the cheque bounce cases with effect from March 15 till any further order.
The Bench comprising of Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justice R Subhash Reddy and A S Bopanna passed the order on the plea filed by Attorney General K K Venugopal in the case.
For serving notices and summons, pleadings it has been seen that it was not possible during lockdown for anyone to visit the postal offices. Thus the apex Court keeping in mind all the prons and cons directed that such postal services as of issuing of notice and summons should take the mode of technology.
The Bench said that this mode can be done by email, fax, or through an instant messenger service. The Court refrained from using the name of whatsapp in the order. It refereed to example of ‘Xerox’ and said that the name of the company has been used to convey the meaning of ‘Photostate’.
The top Court dismissed the apprehension of Justice Venugopal that he was ‘not comfortable’ with the services of summons and notices through whatsapp as it been a complete encrypted platform. It was said that the blue tick in whatsapp can be a proof that the receiver had received the mail on time. And thus it will be applicable to prove under the Indian Evidence Act. But suppose if the receiver had deactivated the blue tick then it cannot be proven and hence services of the notice cannot be proved.
On the extension of the time period for filing of cheque dishonor cases under Sec 138 of the Negotiable Instrument Act, the Apex Court on Friday said that “it will not interfere into this and the time period can be extended by the RBI only”.
It further stated that
“under Sec 35(A) of the Banking Regulation Act, we don’t consider it appropriate to interfere in the deadline prescribed by RBI”. If RBI considers extending, then they can do it”. The Apex Court allowed the modification plea and said the 12 months-time period under the Law to complete arbitral proceedings is allowed to remain in force. The Apex Court said that it was a valuable suggestion and it would like to deal with the term “lifting of lockdown”.