COVID-19 AND VIRTUAL COURTS

COVID-19 AND VIRTUAL COURTS

By:- kajal mathurBA LLB BA LLB Bharti vidyapeeth New law college, Pune

We all welcomed this year 2020 with great enthusiasm and happiness. But who knows this year will become worst of all. The COVID-19 pandemic sweeps through the globe leaving behind a trail of destruction. Due to this virus, many countries are implementing different versions of lockdown which leads to the path of self quarantine and isolations at home. The COVID-19 has resulted in extraordinary crisis that has affected the world at large and also posed many challenges on the ability of the administration of judiciary and justice. In the wake of this pandemic and keeping consideration of social distancing in mind, the courts have gone into only the urgent matter addressing them by the online method with electronic fillings emails etc. Courts are an essential service for civil society. For many important and urgent cases or for hearing matters, the apex court has also provides the facility of video conferencing. In a situation where we do not have any clarity or time frame as to when the courts will able to function at full strength or as an open court, we have to adapt this new status quo that has emerged, as many counties have entered lockdown globally there Is an alarming upshots in number of new cases and here virtual courts come as a savior during this crisis.

Supreme Court has quickly resorted to virtual courts system to ensure that it continued to take up urgent matters seeking justice. Top court resorted to video conferencing instead of regular hearing system. It was pointed out that, in nations like (US, CHINA, UK, FRANCE, SINGAPORE, ITALY etc) the judicial organs of the state carrying out the justice administration were mostly relaying on the concept of virtual court system and online case management. Currently in apex court, under the virtual court system, the advocate-on-record himself and the senior counsel are provided with the video conferencing, they are able to hear, see and respond to the other party and the bench. It is necessary that the administration of justice must be done in keeping in mind the health concerns of the community and people at large. For both Virtual courts and open courts, the lawyers and litigants are the only concerned. The apex court said, “There cannot be a divergent view about the fact that justice cannot be spoon-fed. Justice Delivery, even at the door steps of the stakeholders, requires the stakeholders of the ecosystem to diligent discharge their role and duties, prescribed and required in the scheme of things.” Modern case management requires system that helps the court house personnel manage the flow of cases. Cases must be kept current and case information must be routed to variety of critical administrative personnel and judges.The currently evolving virtual clerk’s office clearly permits faster, more efficient and cheaper operation of the office. Electronics almost entirely eliminate physical storage costs and nullify transmission times.  The general public has always had legal access to court records dealing with title to real property. The virtual courtrooms can unlikely to replace our hallowed wood-or-marble paneled inner sanctums in the near future. The virtual court was never designed as a standalone project but as facilitor of greater system wide change.

GUIDELINES BY SUPREME COURT:

 On 6 April 2020, the Supreme Court, on its own motion, passed directions for conduct of court proceedings across the country through video conferencing during this pandemic. The SC directed as under:

  1. All High Courts shall ensure functioning of the judicial system through use of VC technologies;
  2. District Courts n every state shall adopt VC technologies prescribed by the appropriate High Court;
  3. Courts shall male VC facilities available for those litigants who do not have access to these facilities;
  4. Till such time as the High Court frame rules in this regards, Video call  technologies shall primarily, be used for hearing arguments, both, at the trial as well as appellate stages. However evidence shall not be recorded using VC.
  5. The directions shall remain in force till such time as further orders are passed by the Supreme Court.

Sources said that the Supreme Court is contemplating to boost the infrastructure required for seamless functioning of virtual courts like Installation of large screens and error free web application(s) to enable smooth video conferencing. Till now Judgments by the courts have been delivered in total 325 cases. Apart from judgments top court has disposed of were in need of interim relief. 138 review pleas, 92 writ petitions, 49 special leave petitions and 58 such pleas where parties

Advantages of Virtual courts:

  1. One of the main advantage of virtual courts system is in terms of time, energy and money saved by the litigants and counsels.
  2. Culture of lengthy arguments can be dispense with by setting the time limits for the counsel to present their submissions.
  3. Video conferencing can work greatly in consumer related cases, matrimonial cases.. Arbitration and Mediation can also be practiced virtually.
  4. Copies of the records digitized, or links thereto can be circulated with the advocates on record concerned with the brief who then share it with the counsels. This will be a substantial step towards the elimination of paper and physical briefs in future.
  5. For the convenience of litigations from remote areas the video conferencing links provided can be accessed from the districts court compounds or collectorate in exceptional cases.

Disadvantages of Virtual courts:

  1. Many lawyers have complained that they are facing varies problems like sending Pdf file to their applications or address their arguments through video link.
  2. Video Conferencing are effective only to those courts ore area where there is good connection of internet.
  3. Looking at India’s technological advancements that is not good enough for Video conferencing in large number or in every state.
  4. Challenges for those stake holders of justice who have limited access and understanding of technology. No proper training of lawyers and courts staff in E- court management.
  5. In matters concerning constitutional. Original suits as well as old matters, where there are numerous parties and several legal representing are involved; it would be impractical to conduct proceedings through Video Conferencing.

WAY FORWARD: To deal with challenges the first and the foremost step is to draw the policy and framework for encouraging the setting up of E- Courts. Other thing being important is to upgrade the existing infrastructure in such a way that it leads to the success of project of developing E-courts. We need to develop our security system that provides easy access to case information for appropriate parties. Also here easy access to this mechanism will encourage the litigants to use such facilities. There must be efforts in the training of personnel in maintaining data. There should be training sessions to formalize the judges with the E-Courts framework and procedure. Creating awareness regarding the concept of virtual courts by seminars, webinars

hearing system. It was pointed out that, in nations like (US, CHINA, UK, FRANCE, SINGAPORE, ITALY etc) the judicial organs of the state carrying out the justice administration were mostly relaying on the concept of virtual court system and online case management. Currently in apex court, under the virtual court system, the advocate-on-record himself and the senior counsel are provided with the video conferencing, they are able to hear, see and respond to the other party and the bench. It is necessary that the administration of justice must be done in keeping in mind the health concerns of the community and people at large. For both Virtual courts and open courts, the lawyers and litigants are the only concerned. The apex court said, “There cannot be a divergent view about the fact that justice cannot be spoon-fed. Justice Delivery, even at the door steps of the stakeholders, requires the stakeholders of the ecosystem to diligent discharge their role and duties, prescribed and required in the scheme of things.” Modern case management requires system that helps the court house personnel manage the flow of cases. Cases must be kept current and case information must be routed to variety of critical administrative personnel and judges.The currently evolving virtual clerk’s office clearly permits faster, more efficient and cheaper operation of the office. Electronics almost entirely eliminate physical storage costs and nullify transmission times.  The general public has always had legal access to court records dealing with title to real property. The virtual courtrooms can unlikely to replace our hallowed wood-or-marble paneled inner sanctums in the near future. The virtual court was never designed as a standalone project but as facilitor of greater system wide change.

GUIDELINES BY SUPREME COURT:

 On 6 April 2020, the Supreme Court, on its own motion, passed directions for conduct of court proceedings across the country through video conferencing during this pandemic. The SC directed as under:

  1. All High Courts shall ensure functioning of the judicial system through use of VC technologies;
  2. District Courts n every state shall adopt VC technologies prescribed by the appropriate High Court;
  3. Courts shall male VC facilities available for those litigants who do not have access to these facilities;
  4. Till such time as the High Court frame rules in this regards, Video call  technologies shall primarily, be used for hearing arguments, both, at the trial as well as appellate stages. However evidence shall not be recorded using VC.
  5. The directions shall remain in force till such time as further orders are passed by the Supreme Court.

Sources said that the Supreme Court is contemplating to boost the infrastructure required for seamless functioning of virtual courts like Installation of large screens and error free web application(s) to enable smooth video conferencing. Till now Judgments by the courts have been delivered in total 325 cases. Apart from judgments top court has disposed of were in etc. As technology is here to stay therefore finding mechanism to make it better will be the step in the right direction.

Share

8 thoughts on “COVID-19 AND VIRTUAL COURTS

  1. You’re so awesome! I do not think I’ve truly read through a single thing like this before. So nice to find someone with original thoughts on this issue. Really.. many thanks for starting this up. This website is one thing that is required on the internet, someone with some originality!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *