New Delhi: Two judges of the Delhi High Court have differed in their findings over the issue of denial of litigants` entry to court rooms due to absence of identity proof.
While Justice Gita Mittal of the two-judge bench has in her order directed setting up of an expert committee to look into the issue, the other judge J R Midha has disagreed with her opinion but that judgement is yet to be delivered.
"I have received the order proposed by my learned Brother disagreeing with my above opinion only this morning. I have, therefore, barely had occasion to glance through the same. It is necessary to clarify some aspects of the matter raised therein which I proceed to record hereafter," Justice Mittal, who headed the bench, said on Friday.
"In any event, looked at from any angle, the issue deserves priority, attention, judicial (because we have differed on whether the measure impacts access to justice) and administrative, which I am positive that, irrespective of the judicial view which may be taken in the matter, would be given," she said.
Noting that security measures are inextricably connected with disaster concerns, she said a comprehensive evaluation and action plan is required on priority basis and directed setting up of an expert committee under the Chairmanship of Principal District Judge.
"Denying entry to a litigant to the court premises is barrier to access to justice," Justice Mittal said, adding the panel will include experts from Home Ministry, Intelligence Bureau, National Investigating Agency, Central Industrial Security Force, Delhi Police and other security agencies as its members.
"Restricting public access to courts and imposition of identification or documentation requirements on litigants represent significant barriers to access to justice," she said.
"Such obstacles that prevent the economically weak from accessing courts could effectively reduce court proceedings to de facto in camera proceedings.
"Barring the public from courtrooms is thus a clear violation of the open court principle. Moreover, stringent identification documentation requirements disproportionately affect the ability of the poor and economically weaker section to access courts," she also said.
In her order, Justice Mittal directed Registrar General of Delhi High Court to co-ordinate with committee members and said, "An expert to be nominated by Union Home Secretary, an expert to be nominated by the Director General of IB, an expert to be nominated by Director General of NIA, an expert to be nominated by Director General, CISF, an expert to be nominated by Delhi Police Commissioner and also an expert to be nominated by National Institute of Disaster Management."