Punjab and Haryana HC Allows Identification, Examination of Witness Through Video Conferencing On Social Networking Sites

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The present case was adjudicated by a Single Judge Bench of Justice Kuldip Singh of the Punjab And Haryana High Court. The matter that came up before the court was whether petitioner Sucha Singh, who is residing in USA, can be examined by way of video conferencing.

The District Court had disallowed examination by video conferencing after which the Punjab and Haryana High Court in 2015 ruled in the affirmative:

“This Court…allowed the said prayer stating that the witness can be confronted with the documents with close proximity to the camera…Petitioner himself is at liberty to choose a place which shall be a public authority where such facility is available and inform the Court within a period of four weeks.

Alternately, the petitioner will identify the Indian Consulate in the nearest place from his residence and produce the Court order to secure the permission for hearing. The petitioner shall make himself available during the Court working hours in India and give a date which is mutually convenient to the Court and the Consulate or the Public Office.”

In a slight modification, the High Court in the present order ruled that video conferencing will be effected through online applications such as Skype and WhatsApp.

The court reasoned:

“Since, there is 12 hours difference of time, therefore, when it is a day time in India, there is night time in USA. Therefore, there will be a difficulty in approaching the Public Authority at night time to allow Video Conferencing facility. The Video Conferencing is now available at Computer and the Mobile and so many applications are available like Facetime, Whatsapp, Skype and other similar applications.”

The petitioner has to intimate the time and date when he will be
available on such application to the Court within two weeks from the date of judgement and thereafter, the Court shall fix the convenient date for examination and cross-examination through Video Conferencing.

The said witness shall be identified by the opposite party or any other person nominated by them. If any document is sought to be put to the said witness, photocopy of the same is to be supplied to the opposite party in advance and the same can be sent to the witness, in advance, so that he may answer on the said document.