Justice through E-Courts
This article is written by Mr. Sandeep Mishra, Advocate, Hon’ble Supreme Court of India.
In the present situation where the world is facing a pandemic and everywhere around all the world the governments are taking steps to lockdown their countries with an increasing ‘social distancing’. Whereas, the legal fraternity is adopting a concept of “Virtual Court” or “E-courts”, during this time the notion of ‘Virtual Courts’ has taken a realistic turn and is helping in increasing the rate of justice delivery in a situation where everything is under lockdown. With a bold forward vision of delivering speedy justice the virtual courts in India has started its journey. The current COVID-19 situation has induced lock-down for physical courts which has given a flavor of the potential that technology holds to address a key concern – access to the judicial system, and thereby, justice.
There are thousands of lawyers, litigants and officers who use to visit the court campus everyday can be a huge threat to the concept of social distancing [less physical contacts] in the current pandemic situation where the only option to save human life and control the spread of virus is through social distancing. Following the same directions, the Hon’ble Supreme Court and High Courts have resorted to opt for virtual courtrooms, arguing through physical appearances for hearing the matters through video conferencing and not necessarily meeting the constitutional stipulation of “open” courts. Now, this pandemic has taught us various new things and one of them is to switch on E-library, E- offices and E-courts which would run only with 100 Mbps Internet speed. The Court authorities are using email and messaging services for filing of matters and conducting business.
Though we are still exploring the current concept of E-Court, I feel this process needs systematic and scientific approach for the technology integration in the judicial system. This process is influenced by three key realities of the system as they currently stand:
However, it is important to say that at present, not only lawyers, few judges and administration of High Court and District Court are deprived and handicapped in respect to the technology. On this account, the parties are suffering and the interest of justice is at high stake.
Therefore, in regards to technological development for E-courts, it is very much required to spread awareness and training to our court officers including judges, lawyers and administrative officials of courts in India in respect to online justice delivery systems. It is necessary for all judicial agents to upgrade the mode of practice and equip themselves with the technology to process the new way of justice delivery which is in line with the interest of justice.
The need for technology to our dedicated authorities in this modern situation and to upgrade the judiciary and judicial system through technological advancement will aim at balancing the judiciary’s uncompromising need for adherence to certain principles such as transparency, fairness, accessibility etc. To make these virtual courts successful it is important to lay down an elaborate framework on these fronts – Legal, Technology, Design and Data. These fronts provide the foundation on which the judiciary can build its wall of thought bricks of technology.
At the end of this I must say the framework to adopt the E-Courts technology will be a step-up plan which will work at a time when it is needed or I can say virtual courts are not the only pillar on which we can depend independently.
As a young member of the Bar I must emphasize that the administration of Apex institutions is definitely creating a parallel channel through which a young member of bar is getting an opportunity to feel a real experience of litigation through a virtual mode.
At the end, I hope soon we get over this Pandemic and hear the echo of the Judges in the Courts, often declaring at the end of hearing the case is “Dismissed”!