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Emails & Jurisdiction

(Querist) 26 August 2009 This query is : Resolved 
I have a jurisdiction hearing in Orissa HC on 01/09/2009.

Pls. Consider this Scenario:

A company has its HO at Delhi and Employs employees there. However, in the age of Internet, asks the Staff to work from Home at Orissa during his leave. Now there are trails of Email suggesting that the employee was doing office job during his leave at Orissa. Moreover, the staff also works remotely (From Delhi/Orissa/Mumbai as the case maybe) in Germany, UK & USA.

Now the question is in cases of Labour disputes:
1. What would be the Jurisdiction for the Job done during the Stay at Orissa.
2. Does the law accept Email/Internet as valid mode of communications(I recall that somebody during a seminar of Data safety did hint at the same through some ammendments in 2000)
3. We can prove the geographical origin of emails but will the suffice to fight for jurisdiction, when presented with circumstancial evidences?
R.R. KRISHNAA (Expert) 27 August 2009
Emails are valid evidence before the court as per the Indian Evidence Act.

But please note that just because some emails are sent from some place (say for example Orissa) that would not give jurisdiction to courts in Orissa. Atleast some events necessitating the cause of action should have occured in the place to give the courts of the place the right of jurisdiction.

It all depends on the facts and circumstances of your case.
Biplab Swain (Querist) 27 August 2009
Well, Let me elaborate a bit. In my case we are fighiting for a Arrears case. However, there is this Jurisdiction dispute that has cropped up. During the hearing I was told to prove that I was working for the company within Orissa Jurisdiction or present any communication that was there between me & the company during my stay in Orissa. During my search, I came accross two emails:
1. An email sent by the HR during my stay at Orissa, that she couldnot trace my Leave application, hence she is converting the same as unpaid leave.Please note that my leave dues are a part of the Arrear dues case and also one of the leading fact leading to termination of my service.

2. During this leave period, I received a call from my company to workout a plan to reduce the Internet cost of the company, to which I did a research and handed over the plans through Email, which was duly acknowledged and replied with instructions to work/implement.

3. The 3rd email is about a discussion implementing Servers during my stay at Cuttack, involving Offices in Mumbai, New Delhi and USA.

4.Besides the aforesaid emails, I have received 2 letters by Regd Post from the Company, but after the termination of my job.

I'm pinning my hope on these material facts for the Jurisdiction case. I'm unable to go to Delhi as there is a real danger to my life. I had to register Police complaints there to save myself, before leaving the City.

Hence in the face of above facts please advise a way if any.
A. A. JOSE (Expert) 29 August 2009
Dear Swain,

While there cannot be any more doubt that email is a valid piece of evidence, your case needs further elaboration . You may have a close look to your appointment order and service rules according to which you have accepted exclusive jurisdiction of Courts at New Delhi alone or not. If there are any such conditions, then obviously you have no case in the courts at Orissa, but the jurisdiction would be that of the named court only. As has been rightly opined by some experts herein above, jurisdiction cannot solely depends upon some emails.
Biplab Swain (Querist) 29 August 2009
Sorry, I clicked the wrong option while thanking you. I wanted to thank you but clicked on the wrong option. As for the Appointment order, well there was none till the termination of my service. Interstingly Appointment orders were issued 3 months after my termination to all other staff back dated for 4 years. However, no jursidiction is mentioned there.


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