Use of information and communication technology (ICT) in legal, judicial and quasi judicial fields is still a distant dream. For instance, ICT can be effectively used to run and managed e-courts in India. Similarly, ICT can be used for the purposes of online dispute resolution (ODR) in India. However, till February 2014 we are still waiting for the establishment of first e-court of India and ODR in India is still a dream.
The only solace can be found in the form of pro active steps taken and decision given by various High Courts and Supreme Court of India. In one such incidence, the Delhi High Court has ruled that marriage registration certificate can be issued by the Registrar on the basis of video conferencing of the concerned parties. This would help couples that are staying abroad and who cannot come to India for the sole purpose of in person hearing and attendance.
Justice Manmohan, allowing this procedure in favour of a newly-wed couple based in Canada, said that the rule mandating physical presence while applying for registration was “framed at a time when technology was nascent”. The court said the family members could take delivery of the marriage certificate once the couple confirms this through video-conferencing.
“The law has to adapt to changing times,” the court opined. It also said that developments that have changed the world and the way we view the world today were “unimaginable” and perhaps “beyond comprehension of the rule makers”. The court also observed that technology has enabled parties today to attest documents digitally and ensure digitally secure transmission through the internet.
The court directed the registering authority of the Hindu Marriage Act to accept the application for registering the marriage of couple through their power of attorney holders.
It further asked the registrar to satisfy himself about the legality and validity of the power of attorney as well as the newly-wed couple through video-conferencing, as compelling them to visit India only for this purpose would entail avoidable delay and expenses.
The court also suggested that the government evolve suitable mechanism with a mix of technology by incorporating video-conferencing, authentication of identities by embassies and attestation of signatures in a similar manner.
In 2008 a similar judgment was passed by Justice S. Ravindra Bhat and the same seems to be the basis of the present judgment. However, Justice Manmohan has extended the scope of the previous judgment and we at Perry4Law welcome these well reasoned and much required judgments.