India on Thursday gave its approval for accession to an international pact that would enable litigants abroad and in the country to collect evidence in civil or commercial matters.
The Union Cabinet gave its approval to the Hague Convention of 18 March 1970 on the Taking of Evidence Abroad in civil and commercial matters at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
This would benefit the parties involved in the litigation by simplifying the process and assure greater certainty on admissibility of evidence obtained before Indian courts and facilitate speedier settlement of cases.
It would also help litigants in countries like USA in cases where evidence is required from India by litigants. Since India was not a signatory to the Convention, the parties concerned could not rely on diplomatic officers to serve requests for evidence and make the process potentially more difficult.
There is at least one case in the US five years ago involving an Indian joint venture that was dismissed; one reason cited for this decision was that India was not a signatory to the convention and could not provide the required compulsory process for Indian witnesses.
More recently, the Ministry of Overseas Indians had pursued signing the convention with the law ministry to help protect Indians of overseas Indians. Over 40 countries including Australia, USA, Germany, UK, Russia, Sri Lanka and Singapore that have a substantial presence of people of Indian origin and close trade and economic relations with India have already signed the convention.
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs had earlier sanctioned expenditure of Rs 1221 crore for construction of 8955 houses for people affected by the 2004 Tsunami in Andaman and Nicobar Islands.