A sanction of over Rs 6 crore for digitization of District Court records and upgrading the existing internet connection to 1gbps in all District Courts complexes has been granted by the Delhi Government. (Anand Vaid vs PreetyVaid vs Ors)
An affidavitto this effect was filed before the Delhi High Courtby the Delhi Government in a petition seeking directions to Family Courts to allow recording of evidence via video conferencing during COVID-19 pandemic.
“Sanction of expenditure of Rs 3.0 Crores towards digitization of approximately three crore pages of court files has been granted (by the Delhi Government) on 11.06.2020. Similarly, administrative approval and expenditure sanction of Rs 3,20,38,200/- has been granted for upgradation/enhancement of the existing leased lines from 34 mbps to 1gbps in all District Courts complexes” recorded, the Delhi High Court.
In view of the fact that requests for better internet connection and digitization of court records had repeatedly been made to the Delhi Government by the Authorities, the Court had previously directed the Delhi Government to indicate the time required to fulfil the requests along with reasons for failing to take actions for the past two and a half years.
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The Court remarked after taking on record the sanctioned expenditure towards the abovementioned purpose that,
As for the explanation sought to be offered by the respondent No.1/ GNCTD for the inaction and its part from 27.11.2018 till date, lesser said the better. Respondent No.2/GNCTD ought to have realised that due to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic followed by the lockdown declared by it, physical hearings in courts were not a viable option and keeping in mind the rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in Delhi and the social distancing norms, holding virtual courts remains the need of the hour. This aspect was duly pointed out to the respondent No.2/GNCTD even in the month of May, 2020 when the entire country was in a lockdown, but did not elicit any positive response till orders on the judicial side had to be passed on the last date, in the present proceedings.
In terms of the directions issued by the Committee constituted by Chief Justice for Graded Opening of the High Court and the Subordinate Courts, Judicial Officers would be entitled to work from home by conducting virtual hearings and sufficient bandwidth should be provided to them to run the courts electronically, emphasised court.
The Court had granted two weeks’ time to Delhi Government to process the projects related to digitisation and degradation of internet connection in the District Court Complexes and any delay in sanction of the connected issues shall be treated as an attempt to impede access to justice for the litigants, court remarked.
The Court granted four weeks’ time to the Delhi Government to process the pending sanctions for digitization relating to other branches and projects of the District Courts relating to the Recruitment Cell, Judicial Branch and pool car sanction.
The next hearing would be held on July 2,.
Delhi Government was represented by Anupam Srivastava, Additional Standing Counsel.
Along with Reetesh Singh OSD(Examination), Advocate SanjoyGhose appeared for Delhi High Court.The Petitioner was represented by AdvocateAnkurMahindro.