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  • Writer's pictureTrivedi and Parashar (Advocates and Solicitors)

Judicial Updates -

Delhi High Court - If circumstances warrant and the integrity of the trial is not compromised, courts may allow the accused to appear virtually.


In the matter of Dr. S. Jaitley & Anr v. State (NCT Of Delhi) [Writ Petition (CRL) 2098 of 2023 & CRL.M.A. 19540 of 2023], a case was registered against the Petitioner No.1, who is 75 years of age under Section 376 and 506 of the Indian penal Code, 1860. The Petitioner filed a Transfer Application as it was difficult for the Petitioner to appear before the Trial Court physically. The Trial Court passed an Order wherein it was directed that the Petitioner could appear before the Court physically or virtually, but if the Petitioner is appearing virtually, he has to present the supporting medical documents every time. Aggrieved by the Order, the Petitioner filed a writ petition under Article 226/227 of the Constitution of India, read with Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, before the Delhi High Court.


The Delhi High Court pointed to an office decision dated 5th June that instructed district courts to permit any party or their attorney to attend through hybrid or video-conferencing mode without making a previous request to the court.


The Court observed that “Imposing conditions that compel an elderly accused, such as the 75 years old accused in the present case, to remain present physically before the court on every date of hearing rather than allowing him to join the court proceedings virtually, and to produce medical certificate of illness every time when he wishes to appear virtually, in the given facts and circumstances of the case, will be impractical and unjust.

Further, “This Court has noted that it is a criminal trial and the identity of the accused is of utmost importance. Only because the accused is appearing through Video-Conferencing he will not dispute his identity during cross-examination, etc., or at any other stage of trial since he himself is seeking exemption from personal appearance in physical form and requests that he be allowed to appear through Video-Conferencing,


It also directed the accused to refrain from requesting an adjournment on any hearing date, with the exception of the majority of unavoidable circumstances for which his attorney would move a written application and held that “The accused will not be required to furnish a medical certificate of illness on every date of hearing since he has been permitted to appear through Video-Conferencing.


The Court held that “Thus, in cases where appearing before the Court and joining the proceedings in a criminal trial through virtual modes do not compromise the integrity or fairness of the trial, the courts should be flexible in embracing modern technology and allowing virtual appearances.


Thus, the Delhi High Court set-aside and allowed the petition.

 
 




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