In the High Court of Delhi, New Delhi CLR.REF 2/2019 Petitioner Court on its own motion Respondents The State Date of Judgement 28 February 2020 Bench Hon’ble Mr. Justice Manmohan; Hon’ble Ms. Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal
Fact of the case
It was brought to the attention of the courts that Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) issued Comprehensive Guidelines regarding service of summons/notice/judicial process on persons residing abroad that laid down the procedure for the service of summons on witness residing abroad for the purpose of recording their evidence. The guidelines clarifies that MHA on behalf of Central Government had entered into reciprocal arrangements with foreign Government for service of summons/notice/ judicial processes as required under section 105 of CrPC. The reciprocal arrangements were in the form of Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties with other countries.
Arguments from the Respondents
During the pendency of proceedings, the MHA revised and updated the guidelines to cover within its scope the issuance of letter Rogatory, mutual legal assistance request, service of summons, notice, judicial processes including request for video conferencing, protection and preservation of data, extradition request. The comprehensive and updated guidelines on Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters was approved by MHA and placed before the court. Salient features of the said report was handed over by Amicus Curiae and Union of India and Government of NCT of Delhi were directed to file response. Union of India filed the response and Delhi police also filed a status report.
Response by amicus Curiae (court on its own motion)
Report submitted recommended that the investigating officer should collect relevant personal information of witnesses residing in abroad so that the process of summoning shall immediately commence.
Whether amendments are necessary in Delhi Criminal Court Rules 2015 to incorporate the costs and payments for transmission of summons, notice, judicial processes, payment of witness including expert witnesses etc.
The following as directed by Amicus Curiae:
- Amendment of rules stating expenses for service of summons, notice, judicial processes on person residing abroad and for recording of statement or collecting evidence through video conference
- Guidelines laying down the procedure of video conference
- To replace the existing rule 3.4(i) and incorporate rule 6.12 which is to be placed before Information Technology Committee of the Court for consideration
- practice directions to all trial courts in case of person residing abroad
- for the purpose of service of summons etc MHA guidelines to be followed
- execution of non bailable warrant of arrest to be forwarded by Ministry of External Affairs
- for service of summons etc trail court should ensure compliance of Fig. 4.6 of MHA guidelines under its sign and seal and requirements of checklist in Fig 4.3 should also be complied
- whether evidence is to be recorded through video conference should be mentioned at the time of issuance of summon
- Maintaining of adequate time gap between the issuance of summon and recording the evidence and after receiving information follow the process, as mentioned. Trial court should ensure date as fixed after following rules used productively.
- Direction to Delhi police – In view of Para 4 of status report given by Delhi police no further orders were issued. However the Investigating officers ordered to ensure the information regarding service of summons and details pertaining video conferencing links are provided to the trial court after obtaining the same from MHA.
- Direction for training – the training sessions for judicial officers, technical staff, and police officers must be conducted to familiarize with the above mentioned guidelines.
Copy of MHA guidelines 2019 must be uploaded on websites of the court and District courts.
“The views of the authors are personal“