A key amendment in the law could soon result in summons being serviced in civil matters through email, cutting through layers of red tape and delays, top sources in the ministry of law and justice said.
Currently, a summons is served in accordance with the rules under Order V of the Civil Procedure Code (CPC) of 1908 that governs the functioning of civil courts in India and therefore, a majority of the cases. The procedures do not include email as a means of servicing and still rely on archaic methods such as personal service through a court official.
A committee in the ministry is likely to finalise changes to the CPC on Monday and subsequently prepare a draft amendment bill for Parliament to pass. “Right now there is a lot of scope for improvement in the way summons are serviced. Service through email is now a necessary reform we need. We need to speed up the process because delays result in cases dragging for years,” a senior official on the committee told Hindustan Times. “It has been decided to do away with the rules that are now archaic.”
The ministry brought out a report last year that pinned the average life of a case in India at around 13 years. Service of summons to respondents in civil suits – considered among the top causes of judicial delay – is traditionally done through court officials called process servers and is restricted to the person being summoned or an immediate family member of the respondent. Receipt of summons is necessary for the process to be completed.
One of the key proposals being studied by the ministry that will come up for discussion is doing away with the process servers.
“In many cases, respondents influence these officials and show themselves as not present to receive the summons. Summons to a respondent residing in the jurisdiction of another high court has to be then routed through the high courts, causing even more delay,” the official explained.
Lawyers say evading summons remains one of the leading ways of prolonging litigation. “Though frequent adjournments would be the leading cause for delays, it would be good if email can be used as a proven way of servicing summons. It would speed up the entire process,” senior advocate Jayanth Bhushan said.