Karnataka HC lays down norms for physical presence in Trial Courts

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The Karnataka High Court has laid down guidelines on dealing with the requirements of physical presence of parties and sureties as per three different acts in view of restricted functioning of the courts in the state. 

A division bench headed by Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka has passed the order in relation to the requirement of physical presence under Code of Civil Procedure (1908), Hindu Marriage Act (1955), Special Marriage Act (1954) and Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). 

In the first issue, the bench stated that in terms of a compromise petition, the personal presence of the parties is not mandatory, if they are represented by the advocates. The bench stated that the apex court has reiterated that an advocate appearing for a party is fully competent to put his signature on the terms of any compromise on behalf of his client.

The second issue is about conduct of the proceedings under Hindu Marriage Act and Special Marriage Act. The bench stated that it has been observed by the apex court that when both the parties file a consent memorandum after the reconciliation fails, the family court can conduct hearing through video conferencing, including examination of witnesses. The court can also record the evidence on oath of parties through video conferencing. 

In the third issue pertaining to the production of a surety while granting of the bail, the bench held that the advocate representing the accused can produce the bail bond signed by the surety in prescribed form along with an affidavit.

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After the submission of the required document, including the property documents, the court may hold an enquiry to decide whether the surety is fit and/or sufficient. However, the court can procure the attendance of the surety by video conferencing if it entertains any serious doubt about the identity of the surety or the genuineness of the documents, the bench said. 

As per the Standard Operating Procedure (SoP), district and trial courts in the state are not allowing the litigants into the court premises in view of Covid-19.

“We must note here that, as far as possible, no court shall direct the personal/physical presence of the surety before it. As repeatedly held by us, it is the duty and responsibility of every court and all the stakeholders to ensure that the functioning of court does not become a source of spread of Covid-19,” the court directed.

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