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Videoconferencing in children’s custody case PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Express news service   

In a first, a Tis Hazari court hearing a case related to dispute over children’s custody recorded the testimony of the US-based father through videoconferencing.

The father, a doctor in the US, had sought an exemption from travelling to India to attend hearings citing personal reasons, following which the court had asked the Ministry of External Affairs to arrange for videoconferencing facility.

Though the ministry was a little reluctant earlier, it arranged the facility in New Jersey later where the father recorded his statement in the presence of a senior Indian official.

Several thousand miles away in New Delhi, Additional Sessions Judge Kamini Lau conducted the proceedings on Saturday. Apart from the lawyer and the children’s mother, MEA officials were also present in the court.

However, distance was not the only gap that needed to be bridged. The court also had to keep in mind the time gap between the two countries. While it was past noon in India, it was early morning in the US.

The proceedings continued for several hours. The doctor bore the expenses incurred in setting up the videoconferencing facility. The court will now send his statement to the US for his signature, which will be done in the presence of the Indian Consulate there. After recording the statement, the court also allowed the father to speak to his two daughters, aged 13 and 15, through videoconferencing.

The case dates back to 1998 when the doctor and his wife separated and a complaint was filed in a US court by the latter. A case was later filed in the Tis Hazari court in 2001.

The case could prove to be a trendsetter for various other cases involving NRIs who are involved in litigation and find it difficult to travel to India due to various reasons. The MEA had initially showed its reluctance in the matter claiming that “allowing access to High Commissions or Consulates was not viable”.

Lau had, however, observed, “It is rather surprising to note that in this era of technical advancement, the Indian High Commissions and the Consulates situated in various countries are not equipped with this basic facility.”

The order moved the authorities and they arranged the facility in New Jersey.

The court has now fixed April 30 as the next date of hearing.

(Names have been withheld on request)

 

 



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