With the pendency of cases refusing to come down from the 50,000 level, the Supreme Court on Monday decided to experiment with email notices to respondents to cut the delay in the traditional method of serving notices. The traditional method — registered post with acknowledgement due — usually takes a long time and mostly results in adjournment of hearings because of non-service of the notices on the respondents.
Chief Justice of India S H Kapadia, sitting with Justices K S Radhakrishnan and Swatanter Kumar, realised the difficulty and took immediate action by asking all the lawyers present in the court about putting in practice the serving of notice through emails, at least to start with in commercial matters.
When attorney general G E Vahanvati and senior advocate Harish Salve welcomed the idea, it took Justice Kapadia no time to dictate an order to that effect — sending notices through email in commercial cases.
The CJI justified the experimentation by saying, “In various courts, statistical date indicates that on account of delay in service, arrears keep mounting. At least, 50% of the cases get delayed on account of delay in the process of serving notices.”
To help speed up the process, Vahanvati volunteered to give within two weeks details of email addresses of every department of the Central government, which is the single largest litigant in the court. The AG said: “The Cabinet secretariat will provide email addresses of each and every department and regulatory authorities along with the names of nodal officers.”
But, the traditional method of serving notices would not be given up. “We hereby direct the Supreme Court registry to send additional notice at the email addresses of respondents, whenever the advocate on record furnishes them along with a soft copy of the petition or appeal,” the bench said.
It clarified that it was not making a new rule but providing for an additional mode for service of notices. The bench also questioned Salve about the software to get acknowledgement of email notices.