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SC says no to video conferencing in transfer pleas

New Delhi, Oct 9 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Monday held that video conferencing cannot be mandated in pleas seeking transfer of proceedings.

A three bench of the apex court said in matrimonial disputes, the spatial distance while conducting settlement through video conferencing will “distant the possibility of reconciliation” because the Family Court Judge would not be in a position to interact with the parties in the manner as the law commands.

“In a transfer petition, no direction can be issued for video conferencing,” said Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice A.M. Khanwilkar in the majority verdict, while Justice D.Y. Chandrachud dissented.

After the settlement fails, if the Family Court feels it appropriate having regard to the facts and circumstances of the case that videoconferencing will sub-serve the cause of justice, it may so direct, the court added.

The court also made reference to Section 11 of the Family Courts Act, 1984, which mandates the proceedings to be held in camera if Family court or one of the parties so desires. “In view of the scheme of the 1984 Act and in particular Section 11, the hearing of matrimonial disputes may have to be conducted in camera,” bench added.

In a dissenting judgment, Justice Chandrachud strongly urged the use of technology in such proceedings

“Proper adoption of video conferencing does not negate the postulates of an in-camera trial even if such a trial is required by the court or by one of the parties under Section 11,” he said.

“It would be inappropriate to deprive the Family Court which is vested with such wide powers and procedural flexibility to adopt video conferencing as a facilitative tool, where it is convenient and readily available. Whether video conferencing should be allowed must be determined on a case to case analysis to best effectuate the concern of providing just solutions. Far from such a procedure being excluded by the law, it will sub serve the purpose of the law,” he added.

The court’s order came while overruling earlier two-bench order of apex court mandating the use of video conferencing facilities in matrimonial disputes before filing transfer petitions etc.


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