At Perry4Law we receive numerous legal queries regarding legality of sending and receiving of a legal notice through electronic mail (E-Mail) or other electronic mediums. In order to spread public awareness in this regard, we are providing the legal position as applicable in India.
The Information Technology Act, 2000 recognises sending of electronic records for various purposes, including legal notices, if certain conditions are satisfied. Both Supreme Court of India and the Delhi High Court have already prescribed guidelines in this regard.
A Three Judge Bench of Supreme Court of India in Central Electricity Regulatory Commission v. National Hydroelectric Power Corporation Ltd, Civil Appeal No. (D.21216/2010), (2010) 10 SCC 280 observed that in various Courts, the statistical data indicates that, on account of delay in process serving, arrears keep on mounting. In Delhi itself, the input indicates that fifty per cent of the arrears in Courts particularly in commercial cases is on account of delay in process serving.
For the above reasons, the following directions, as mentioned hereinbelow, are given:
(i) In addition to normal mode of service, service of Notice(s) may be effected by E-Mail for which the advocate(s) on-record will, at the time of filing of petition/appeal, furnish to the filing counter a soft copy of the entire petition/appeal in PDF format;
(ii) The advocate(s) on-record shall also simultaneously submit E-Mail addresses of the respondent(s) Companies/Corporation(s) to the filing counter of the Registry. This will be in addition to the hard copy of the petition/appeal;
(iii) If the Court issues notice, then, in that event alone, the Registry will send such an additional notice at the E-Mail addresses of the respondent(s) Companies/Corporation(s) via E-Mail;
(iv) The Registry will also send Notice at the E-Mail address of the advocate(s) for respondent(s) Companies/Corporation(s), who have filed caveat. Advocate(s) on-record filing caveat shall provide his/her E-Mail address for effecting service; and
(v) Within two weeks from today, Cabinet Secretariat shall also provide centralized E-Mail addresses of various Ministries/Departments/ Regulatory Authorities along with the names of the Nodal Officers, if already appointed, for the purposes of service.
The above facility is being extended in addition to the modes of service mentioned in the existing Supreme Court Rules. This facility, for the time being, is extended to commercial litigation and to those cases where the advocate(s) on-record seeks urgent interim reliefs.
The Delhi High Court, in exercise of powers under Part X of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908) and Order V, Rule 9 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 and all other powers enabling it in this behalf, has also made Rules regarding service of legal notices through E-Mail. These rules allow service of legal notices and processes through E-Mails if the conditions prescribed therein are duly complied with.
Similarly, A Division Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Sanjiv Khanna has ensured early release of undertrials and accused who are granted bail by directing all Delhi courts as well as its own officials to e-mail a copy of bail orders to Tihar jail authorities within 24 hours of being pronounced.
The Supreme Court of India and the Delhi High Court are also working in the direction of establishment of E-Courts in India as soon as possible. Presently, computerisation work has been finished to a greater extent and we may witness the e-filing facility as well in the near future. Once linked to the National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG), a proper e-court infrastructure can be established in India.
So those who believe that legal notices or legal processes cannot be sent through e-mail must think again as the necessary legal and judicial framework in this regard already exists in India.