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Court summons can be sent via email, fax, WhatsApp amid coronavirus pandemic: SC

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Court summons and notices can be sent via email, fax and instant messaging applications like WhatsApp amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Supreme Court said on Friday.

“It has been brought to our notice that it was not possible to visit post offices for services of notices, summons, pleadings. Such service of all the above may be done through email, fax and other instant messenger services like WhatsApp and other telephone messenger services,” the top court said.

“Two blue ticks would convey that the receiver has seen the notice,” said the bench, comprising Justices AS Bopanna and R Subhash Reddy.

The order came during a hearing on extending the limitation period of filing appeals in High Courts and tribunals due to the pandemic.

In May, the Supreme Court had rolled out an e-filing facility allowing lawyers to file petitions beyond court hours.

Pointing out the need to adapt to new technology, Chief Justice SA Bobde had then said, “We have to accept the present situation and change our mindset. Eventually, it must settle down to a system of new and old. There are cases which must have to be heard in congregation.”

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He further said that in the future, artificial intelligence can prove to be useful in deciding cases. “In the future, AI will be useful in deciding cases… if AI had been used, the Ayodhya case would have been decided without delay.”

Supreme Court judges, who were conducting hearings on video conference from home amid the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown, resumed hearings in courtrooms in May. The respondents still do not go to court and join in through video conference. The lawyers argue from their chambers.

Judges have been asked by the Chief Justice to avoid their standard black coats and gowns during the pandemic and switch to plain white shirts with a neckband.

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