Rules for virtual proceedings yet to be framed by Punjab & Haryana High Court

Deepali Kalia

Punjab and Haryana High Court is yet to frame rules regarding hearing of cases through video conferencing even though it has, since the pandemic adopted the virtual mode for its proceedings.

The particular issue came to the surface before the High Court during hearing of a matrimonial dispute where the lower court had dismissed Petitioner-Wife’s prayer for conducting the cross examination of Respondent-Husband through physical mode.

Justice Lisa Gill asserted in the hearing that,“Though guidelines for video-conferencing were issued, the rules have not yet been notified by this high court”.

Prior to the COVID outbreak, the Punjab and Haryana High court had issued guidelines for video conferencing in July 2018.

Supreme Court had also in October of last year stated that, “High Courts that have not framed such rules shall do so, having regard to the circumstances prevailing in the State.”

In its order, the Apex Court had stated that video conferencing in every high court and within the jurisdiction of every High Court should be conducted as per the rules framed by that high court for that purpose.

Thus, video-conferencing in the High Court, in the District Courts and for appellate proceedings, trials will be governed by the formulated rules.

“Till such rules are framed, the High Courts may adopt the model videoconferencing rules provided by the e-Committee, Supreme Court, to all the Chief Justices of the High Courts.” the order further added.

Consequently, noting that the Respondent was living in Singapore and it would not be possible for him to travel for his examination amid pandemic, Justice gill directed that his cross examination shall be conducted by the trial court while complying with the 2018 guidelines and  the Model Videoconferencing Rules published by the Supreme Court.

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