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In view of the difficulties faced by lawyers in filing petitions, the Patna High Court has modified its earlier order mandating a “fully visible” photo ID for the purpose of filing affidavits in Court.
The Division Bench of Chief Justice Amreshwar Pratap Sahi and Justice Ashutosh Kumar has modified the order dated August 26 to the effect that the words “fully visible” be replaced by “fairly visible”.
While hearing a maintenance case, a Single Judge Bench of Justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah found that the photo ID provided by a deponent was barely recognizable. In his order passed on August 26, Justice Amanullah had observed that it was the duty of the Advocate Oath Commissioner as well as the counsel through whom the affidavit was filed to ensure that the photo ID was clear. The order states,
“…duty is that of learned Advocate Oath Commissioner before whom the affidavit is affirmed and then equally it is the responsibility of the learned counsel through whom it is filed, as he being the officer of the Court is required to certify that affidavit is in order for being filed. That is the purpose of having an Advocate on Record to do so to ensure that whatever is filed through them is as per the requirement of law and the Rules of the Patna High Court.”
The judge had a mind to impose costs on the deponent, the advocate clerk identifying him, the lawyer who filed the affidavit, and the Advocate Oath Commissioner before whom the affidavit was affirmed. However, after the petitioner’s counsel tendered an apology, the judge refrained from doing so.
Justice Amanullah went on to direct the Registrar General of the Patna High Court o issue strict instructions to the Advocate Oath Commissioners to ensure that a fully visible copy of the photo ID is provided before the affidavit is approved.
The Co-ordination Committee of three lawyers’ associations at the Patna High Court subsequently challenged this order. It was contended that Section 34 of the Advocates Act provides that the power to issue Rules is that of the High Court and a Single Judge could not have exercised the aforesaid power without any valid basis. It was also argued that before passing such an order, the affected party or the concerned advocate should have been informed.
After hearing the concerns put forth by the bar associations, the Division Bench noted that the photocopies of IDs like Aadhaar cards may not be as clear as the card itself.
“The possibility of the photograph in such Cards being blurred in the photo copy may not necessarily be attributable to any deliberate act on the part of the deponent to hide or change his identity.”
Therefore, the Division Bench ordered that the Single Judge’s order be modified by substitution the words “fully visible” with “fairly visible”.
“What is required to be seen is that the name, residential address and date of birth along with UID number should be clearly discernible/visible. This would broadly prevent any fake person to swear an affidavit…
…the residential address and the UID number is generally speaking, sufficient proof of the fact that a genuine person has deposed and in case of any infraction in the information so provided in the petition, the same would get tracked by calling such deponent in Court.”
The Bench further referred the issue to the Chief Justice for passing appropriate orders on the administrative side.
Read the order: