Source: The Hindu (e-paper) - Friday, Sep 21, 2007
Divorce through video-conferencing
The entire process was over within 15 minutes
Divorce order e-mailed to consenting couple
Proceedings recorded in audio, video format
CHENNAI: A Family Court here conducted divorce proceedings through video-conferencing and e-mailed a divorce order to a consenting couple – wife living in Australia and the husband in the U.S.
Hitherto during similar proceedings before the Family Courts, at least one party to the litigation was physically present before the court, said court officers and advocates. The couple, both software professionals and in their twenties, preferred divorce petitions owing to incompatibility and differences of opinion. However, during the mandatory six-month legal separation period, the husband shifted to the United States and the wife got a job in Australia.
Both could not be present in court on Wednesday, when the case was scheduled to be taken up for orders.
They had intimated the court in advance. R. Devadoss, Principal Judge for Family Courts, presided over proceedings spread across three continents, connected only by the worldwide web.
Sources said in order to ascertain the identity of persons taking part in the proceedings, blood relatives of the couple were asked to be present in court.
The parties made a sworn statement ahead of their depositions and the relatives confirmed their identities. The whole proceedings were recorded in both audio and video format, and the presiding officer signed at the end of the deposition, affirming “recorded before me,” a court employee said. It was then counter-signed by the relatives and counsel.
A “cost analysis” of the proceedings revealed that the court incurred an expenditure of around Rs. 300, the employee said, pointing out that an orthodox method would have cost not less than Rs. 2 lakh for the parties, besides the man-hours spent on travel.
Though all the mandatory legal requirements were complied with, the entire process was over within 15 minutes, he added.