The growing age of digitization has now been rampant across the Indian judiciary after the judges were moved to attend the hearings and court proceedings virtually in the wake of the Covid pandemic. Though the court proceedings had resumed and returned to normalcy in recent times after the decline of the Covid cases, the judiciary is yet to relinquish the virtual hearing as it has been aiding the courts to run whenever required.
In the midst of the prevailing digitization in hearings in the Indian courts, the Madras High Court has turned heads by conducting a hearing of a case through WhatsApp for the first time and the interesting factor is that such hearing was conducted on Sunday. According to reports, Justice GR Swaminathan had conducted a WhatsApp hearing on May 15 - Sunday while he was in Nagercoil, where he had gone to attend a marriage function.
The reports say that the necessity of hearing a particular case has made the Justice restore to WhatsApp to conduct the hearing. After a submission by PR Srinivasan, the hereditary trustee of Shri Abheeshta Varadaraja Swamy temple, that his village will face 'divine wrath' if the proposed rath (car) festival was not held on Monday, May 16. The temple is in the Dharmapuri district and with one day to go for the festival, Justice Swaminathan had decided to hold a hearing through WhatsApp video call.
In the opening sentence of his order, Justice Swaminathan said, "This fervent prayer of the writ petitioner made me hold an emergency sitting from Nagercoil and conduct the case through WhatsApp." While the Justice has joined the hearing from Nagercoil, the petitioner's counsel V Raghavachari has joined from the other place while Advocate General R Shanmugasundaram has joined the call from Chennai.
According to PTI, the Judge had permitted to conduct the festival and held that the Inspector of the Hindu Religious and Charitable Department does not have the jurisdiction to issue an order directing the temple Thakkar (rit person) and the hereditary trustee to stop the car festival. The Judge had then revoked the order.
After quashing the order, the judge had directed the temple authorities to strictly follow the rules and regulations stipulated by the government while holding temple festivals and the state-run Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation Limited to cut power supply in the area for a few hours, from the beginning of the processions till it reaches back to its stand. The directive of shutting down the power was passed after a tragic incident happened in Thanjavur where eleven people were electrocuted and died after a temple chariot had collided with the high transmitting electricity line during a procession. The incident had also injured 17 others.