Hello all! I hope you all are doing great. Welcome to my other blog which is about virtual courts. With the beginning of physical hearing in courts, I want to reflect some of the problems regarding virtual courts. So, here is some research work regarding the solutions of these problems. Happy reading!
The pandemic situation across India hits the dangerous level. The Indian government imposes lockdown across the country, subduing the justice delivering system to work effectively. Therefore under the prevailing condition of minimum contact and social distancing, it is impossible to hear cases in open courts. In such troubling times, the supreme court paved the way for uninterrupted access to justice through court hearings via video conferencing.
The supreme court, on April 6, 2020, ordered invoking article 142 of the constitution. According to that order, the Supreme Court and High courts are sanctioning to adopt measures required to ensure the vigorous functioning of the judicial system through the use of video conferencing mechanisms. The district courts were to adopt the mode of video-conferencing prescribed by the concerned High Courts. Now, advocates are appearing working from home on virtual screens and hear cases by that. The supreme court uses email and messaging services for filing matters and conducting business.
Guidelines of virtual courts
These guidelines aimed ensuring justice for all during the lockdown in virtual courts.
“We should continue with the works of courts as a vital public service.
Just as others in the public sector and the private sectors are doing.”
By – Chief Justice of England and Wales(March 19)
Court hearings are conducted via online meeting platforms, password protected by both the Supreme Court and some High Courts. SC & HC are prohibiting any virtual recording due to security reasons. Looking ahead, the Indian Judiciary needs a systematic change to institutionalize and embed technology and digitization in its functioning.
CHALLENGES & SOLUTION TO ADOPTING VIRTUAL COURTS
The question of access to justice.
Many litigants and advocates living in rural areas lack high speed internet connection required for virtual hearing of cases. This digital divide makes access to justice inaccessible and unaffordable. Moreover, such issues more likely to hit lower courts the worst.
To ensure proper connectivity to each court be it lower or higher stature, the government must layout proper advisories. And the motive must be, provide internet connectivity to each and every litigator irrespective of the area they reside. Government can partner with network providing companies and sign a bond with them that ensure high speed connectivity to the courts. Also the Judiciary must consider solutions such as mobile video conferencing facilities. So as to allow meaningful participation of those living in the remote geographies. It will benefit both the parties.
The degree of comfort in virtual courts.
Highly underrated but important factor is whether everyone is comfortable and well-versed with the new justice delivery system. The department of justice raise an issue regarding the connectivity problem facing by the participants of the rural areas.
To solve this problem the secretary, Department of Justice taken up training programs in each of the 25 High Courts. The master trainers in the districts tasked with training others in the lower courts and in the remaining districts. Another suggestion is to solve the problem in this regard in the report is the Bar Council of India introduces a computer course module in the syllabus of three/five-year law programs. So as to skill students in some of these aspects as a part of their college education and trainings which automatically make the aspiring lawyers become well verse with the system.
The idea of open courts.
Virtual courts “threaten the constitutionality of court proceeding and undermine. The importance of Rule of law which forms the basic structure of the constitution ” said by one of the representatives of the Bar. Virtual courts are anti-ethical to the open court system as they allow for the limited access. But the committee inform that there are laws in a many countries which mandate open access of courts for public. A committee member commented on the related aspect of this issue and stated how India is still an outliner. Because in our country Court proceedings are neither recorded nor widely live-streamed.
The Supreme court has reaffirmed the importance of open court principle on multiple occasions and further observed that live streaming is an extension of open court principle and has also emphasized that the live streaming of the court proceedings significance in promoting openness and transparency which in true reinforce public faith in judicial system. The committee agreed with the observation made by the Supreme court that the live streaming court proceedings of the cases especially cases of constitutional and national importance having impact on the public at large and will promote transparency and openness.
The question of privacy and data security in virtual courts.
The report here makes some interesting and innovative suggestions vital to the performance of any justice delivery mechanism. The committee noted how courts across the world had instance of data security or privacy concerns while adapting to an entirely virtual mode of conducting hearings. It also noted the fact that the recording of the proceedings in India currently take place using third-party software or platforms and a few of them have already been rejected earlier on grounds of being unsafe to use.
The committee recommended that the IT develop a new software for India’s judicial system to use and handle virtual courts hearings. It also recommended that blockchain technology be leveraged to make the transaction of data safer and more secure while putting in place proper security standards as well.
We cannot deny the importance of virtual courts in our lives while talking about globalization and digitalization. We need to adopt all modern means of technology to make our country stand at par with the world and ensure we do not lag behind the world. After analyzing everything, we can state that Yes, every crisis brings a new opportunity to upgrade and develop oneself, immune from the problems that might come in the future.
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