HYDERABAD: Family Courts are justified in seeking the assistance of any practising lawyer to provide the necessary Skype facility in any particular case to reduce the litigation costs and save the court’s precious time, the Hyderabad High Court has ruled.
For that purpose, the parties can be permitted to be represented by a legal practitioner, who can bring a mobile device. By using the Skype app, parties, who are staying abroad, can not only be identified by the Family Court but also enquired about the free will and consent of that party. Further, the other party present in the court can also help the court identify the other party as well as ascertain the required information.
THE CASE: The petitioner, who filed a revision petition before the High Court, is the husband and the respondent is his wife. They got married at a place in West Godavari district in Andhra Pradesh as per the Hindu rites and customs. They lived initially in Hyderabad and later in Australia where the petitioner was employed. Soon differences cropped up between them which could not be reconciled in spite of the best efforts made by themselves, friends, well-wishers and elders of their families. Both decided to have their marriage dissolved by mutual consent. And they filed a petition before the Family Court, Ranga Reddy district.
The respondent (wife) has been attending the proceedings by appearing in the Family Court. However, the father of the petitioner (husband), who holds the general power of attorney (GPA), filed an interlocutory application before the Family Court to receive the chief-affidavit of the petitioner/husband duly dispensing with the personal appearance of the petitioner in the Family Court. The petitioner has sworn to a detailed affidavit and got it notarised by a notary public of South Melbourne, Australia. That interlocutory application has been returned with a cryptic order that the “Petition is returned as not maintainable”. Aggrieved with this order, the present revision petition has been filed in the High Court.
While dealing with the revision petition of the petitioner-husband, justice Nooty Ramamohana Rao noticed that the respondent-wife is fairly very clear that the marriage between her and the petitioner was required to be dissolved and she did not appear to be having any doubts in that regard. Besides, she was also clear that there was no necessity to cross-examine the petitioner/husband with regard to the contents of the affidavit sought to be filed by him as the contents were virtually the same as were narrated in the petition itself.
After perusing various judgments on the issue whether a power of attorney holder can be examined as a witness in a legal proceeding, the judge said that it was evident that a GPA holder can depose and also lead evidence on behalf of his principal. The judge held that the Family Court is entitled to receive, examine and act upon an affidavit filed by one of the parties before it acting through a GPA, and a petition moved in that regard is maintainable.
Stating that Family Courts had been noticing that one of the parties was stationed abroad, the judge said that it may not be always possible for such parties to undertake a trip to India for a variety of good reasons. But, however, technology in the information sector improved by leaps and bounds and the courts in India were also making efforts to put to use the technologies available. ‘Skype’ is one such facility which is easily available. Therefore, the Family Courts were justified in seeking the assistance of any practising lawyer to provide the necessary Skype facility in any particular case, the judge added.
While allowing the revision petition, justice Ramamohana Rao directed the Family Court to entertain the interlocutory application as it was maintainable and permit the GPA of the petitioner/husband to represent in the case and the Family Court shall also direct such GPA or any legal practitioner chosen by him to make available the Skype facility for the court to interact with the petitioner who was staying in Australia and record the consent of the latter and proceed with the matter thereafter as expeditiously as possible.