Mumbai: An order of the a registrar of the Supreme Court of India, saying that service of notice to respondents through e-mail or WhatsApp was not valid as per the service rules of the apex court, has raised a debate on whether the modern electronic means can be used.
Although the electronic mode is not specifically permitted by the SC’s service rules, the apex court and various high courts have permitted the same during and post Covid-19 pandemic. The legal experts agree that there is a requirement to amend the rules in keeping with the changing times.
Resgistrar Shetty said notice served through email was invalid as per rules
While hearing a matter, Registrar H Shashidhara Shetty, on February 13, said that the notice served to respondents through e-mail was found to be an invalid service as per rules.
"As per office report, notice was served upon respondent Nos. 2 and 3 through e-mail,which is not valid service, as per rules. Hence, counsel for the petitioner is granted two weeks’ time to take fresh steps and file fresh particulars in respect of respondent Nos. 2 and 3. Dasti, in addition, is allowed as prayed for,” read the order.
However, the order has raised a debate on whether the order would be applicable generally considering that the apex court and even the Bombay high court, on few occasions, has permitted petitioners to serve notice to the respondents electronically, especially when the respondents are located in other cities or countries.
Noted criminal lawyer Sayaji Nangre said that the registrar’s order would not be binding like an order of a court. “After all, it is electronic evidence,” said Nangre.
SC and other high courts permitted summons to be served through modern electronic media
Following the nationwide lockdown in March 2020 after the Covid-19 pandemic hit the country, the Supreme Court and various high courts started hearing through video conferencing mode. During the Covid-19 lockdown, several courts including the Supreme Court had allowed for summons and notices to be served through email,fax and instant messaging applications like WhatsApp.
“The SC Rules are old and were framed much before the e-mail and WhatsApp came into existence,” said Nangre.
Senior advocate Raja Thakare said that the registrar’s order does not set a precedent, but merely states the SC rules. “Technically, the registrar was right in passing such a remark since the SC rules permit service of notice only physically,” said Thakare.
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