Information and communication technology (ICT) for development (ICT4D) is well known to all stakeholders. Whether it is business community or legal professionals, ICT can help them all. ICT can also help in bringing practical solutions in a cost effective and timely manner. For instance, video conferencing can be used by business community, e-commerce entrepreneurs, legal professionals and even judicial systems around the world. Video conferencing also has a bright future for technology driven projects like e-courts and online dispute resolution (ODR).
Information technology act, 2000 (IT Act 2000) is the sole law of India that deals with issues of e-commerce, e-governance, cyber law, cyber security, etc. By implications it also covers area of video conferencing as we have no dedicated law or regulations on video conferencing in India. However, other laws like code of civil procedure, criminal procedure code, Indian evidence act, Indian contract act, etc also supplement the provisions pertaining to video conferencing in India but on a case to case basis.
Use of video conferencing in business community of India is not new and it is in use for long. Use of video conferencing for legal and judicial purposes is also not new in India. Courts in India have been using video conferencing for litigation purposes especially for receiving evidence from witness. The cyber law of India confers recognition to electronic documents, e-governance and e-commerce.
However, use of video conferencing in India is not free from trouble. In one such past case a man who filed his divorce petition through a video conference from Canada was directed to make a personal appearance in the court. Now personal appearance is a concept that strikes at the very concept of e-courts and video conferencing. Nevertheless, it is required in many cases to prevent abuse of process of law and court and to prevent injustice to the parties to the dispute.
Till the time we have a clear cut law regarding video conferencing in India, judicial discretion is the safest bet regarding allowing or disallowing use of video conferencing for various legal and judicial purposes. Personal appearance is also required in India in many cases where domicile certificate, recognition of foreign divorce decree, proving a customary divorce, etc are in question.
Similarly, there are cases where crucial speech and expression and law and order maintenance issues are involved. In such cases conducting of a video conferencing is regulated by various regulations in India. However, there is an urgent need to formulate clear and constitutional norms and regulations regarding video conferencing in India.