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Supreme Court Urges High Courts to Regulate Appearance of Government Officials

The Supreme Court has recommended that all High Courts in India formulate rules to govern the appearance of government officials in court, following the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) established by the apex court. The SOP aims to provide a structured framework to discourage arbitrary and frequent summoning of government officials, suggesting that physical presence may not be necessary in cases addressable through affidavits and documents.

In exceptional circumstances requiring personal appearance, the court proposes video-conferencing as the first option. The bench, headed by CJI D.Y. Chandrachud, emphasizes the need for the summoning court to record reasons for an official’s presence, designate specific time slots, and refrain from humiliating remarks during proceedings. The court also outlines the process for sending video-conferencing invitations to officials, aiming to protect their dignity and streamline court procedures.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had initially sought these guidelines after two Uttar Pradesh officials faced custody for non-compliance with an Allahabad High Court order. The Supreme Court had earlier reserved its judgment on the matter, distinguishing cases where affidavits suffice from those necessitating the physical presence of government officials.