Can Virtual Hearings be considered as a new paradigm for Speedy Justice? – A brief analysis in view of recent NJDG statistics for pending cases

By Somya Gupta, Intern (May, 2020), Lexstructor

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As the corona virus (COVID-19) pandemic sweeps across the country, it has affected India’s economy , administration and its legal system too. Government have taken various measures like social distancing, lockdown all over the country to prevent people from being getting infected. The lockdown is being extended by the government to stop the spread of coronavirus because of which courts were also closed, which is affecting our legal system.

Virtual hearings means, there would be no parties present in a physical hearing room ,instead, all participants join the proceedings via an audio or video conference provision.E-courts i.e. virtual hearing would be a great boon in this time of crisis. The measures taken to stop the spread of COVID-19 shouldn’t impact the timely delivery of justice to the people. Even after the lockdown is lifted it will take time in returning to normal. There are 672 district courts in India and 25 High Courts in India and a Supreme Court of India. Currently ,only urgent matters are being taken by Supreme court through virtual hearing.

There have been a rise in number of cases of domestic violence during this pandemic, which are also necessary to be heard. If the legal system is kept closed for longer time , then it will make the situation worse all over the country. So, there is a need to provide adjournment on urgent matters. There was a concern that few High courts in this time of crisis are refusing to entertain even the urgent matters. So, Supreme court has issued notice that cases regarding death penalty and family law to be taken up through videoconferencing to furnish their joint consent.On December 8,2009 ,Delhi High court established the first e-court in India in the court of Justice S Ravindra Bhat. Karnataka High Court turned to conducted virtual court from the court hall in this COVID crisis by digitally reaching out to an advocate in a remote location. at Bilaspur high court, Nation’s second e-court fee system was made operational.

In this time of pandemic, Supreme court has conducted three virtual courts through videoconferencing to hear a few urgent matters As in this pandemic situation WHO advises people to maintain social distancing , so it’s necessary Future courtrooms can be decongested and there should be virtual hearings as justice shouldn’t be delayed .There is a saying “Justice delayed is justice denied” and no one should be denied justice because in this crisis it will make the situation worse for them. There is so much technological advancement , there should be the option of virtual hearing. It would help litigants as court dates involves to and fro travelling of the litigants to court , adjournments which have always been a cause of concern in pursuing a legal remedy. E-courts will help in saving resources as there would be cut down in  voluminous paperwork in the legal system. Everything could be maintained digitally in e-courts, where all the information that is to be shared would be installed in a particular software. The software could be accessed by  litigants, lawyers and judges. E-courts will make the legal system speedy, transparent ,accountable and it would be easy in maintain the data and will help litigant to avoid the problems he faces in doing so much of filing work.  Litigant and lawyers can pay court fee while admitting the litigation in court and they need not visit court premises to make payment. So, paying court fee digitally will make everything much more easy for them.

NJDG which stands for National Judicial Data Grid, it provides statistics of cases which are pending and the cases which are disposed by courts across India. According to National Judicial Data Grid), more than 2852 Districts and Taluka Court complexes have their presence on the National Judicial Data Grid portal i.e. ecourts.gov.in .They are providing people with the information like Case Status, Cause lists online with orders/judgments. On NJDG, at present, data of more than 7 crores pending and disposed of cases and 3.3 crore orders/judgments of District Courts in India are available on NJDG. With so much of pending cases it is a need of virtual hearing and provides justice to these litigants. In the era of technology, there should be optimum utilisation of resources. It cant be stated that virtual hearing are need for this situation only. Earlier also like before this crisis, the system of e-courts was needed as cases across all levels of the judiciary—3,22,74,096 cases at the district and taluka level courts and another 48,16,011 cases across high courts  are pending and all people are not able to get justice in India. Delivering judgments in cases where through this medium  would help in reducing  the backlog of cases in India. There is a need for innovations and new paradigms in the administration of justice.

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Disclaimer : Views are personal. All Rights Reserved to Lexstructor.

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