The year 2020 has been a year of change for the whole world. The covid 19 pandemic has affected every individual on the globe and has brought remarkable changes in their lives. Because of this pandemic, many countries suddenly stopped functioning and working and the people had to stay at home for their safety. The schools and offices started working virtually. Every individual started doing video conferencing for their jobs in every field like finance, law, governance, public and private sector, etc. the schools started conducting video lectures and online examinations.
The lives of the people drastically changed, although the problems and the work remained the same. People did their day to day work at home and in front of the computer screen instead of going out for jobs or school. Online market went at its peak during the time of worldwide lockdown. Because of the pandemic, the judicial Courts went on hold and all the current and pending cases were on standby. Therefore, to continue the working of the Courts and to give justice even at the time of the pandemic, the Chief Justice of India, Justice S.A. Bobde introduced the provision for Virtual Courts. All the current and pending cases started being heard through video conferencing along with the daily Court procedures. The step taken by Justice Bobde is a remarkable decision in the history of India. The Virtual Courts started working in March 2020 in India.
Normal Courts Vs Virtual Courts
The Virtual Courts are a new system of dispensation of justice and are immensely effective at the time of the pandemic. It is a means for a speedy and economic way of providing justice. The Virtual Courts are easily accessible and affordable to all the citizens of the country irrespective of their location or financial situation. People all over India can be virtually connected to the Courts and can be a part of it for seeking justice. The Virtual Courts are advanced and are a part of the technology-driven society. It saves the litigants and the clients from long hours of travelling from a distant location to reach the Courts. These Courts provide justice to remote areas and do not require any special infrastructure as the normal Courts. The quick and cheaper justice given by these Courts helps in the fast hearing of the pending cases.
Many petty issues such as financial issues for making chalan etc and absence of advocates is solved by the Virtual Courts. New opportunities have been provided to various Tribunals such as National Company Law Tribunal, Intellectual Property Right Tribunals, etc. Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) has also emerged as a popular method for dispute resolution instead of going to the Courts. Virtual Courts are a good way for providing justice even in adverse conditions.
Shortcomings of Virtual Courts
The Virtual Courts are one of the great steps taken as the new normal in India but it has certain shortcomings which need attention and quick resolution. India is gradually moving to the era of fast technological growth and development. It is moving forward in the field of science and technology but it is still backward in many aspects of technological development. For setting up Virtual Courts, advanced technology is required with specialised software engineers who can set up the Courts and solve the problems during the procedures of the Courts. There is a need for tech savvy people and advocates with the knowledge of latest technology and technological equipment like good internet connection, computers and laptops, etc.
There are hindrances because of the lack of connectivity in video conferencing. The capacity of the advocates to argue and question the Court is not easily achieved and the facial expressions which are a major aspect of deciding a case verdict are not seen. Not all parts of India have proper connectivity, especially the remote areas. The parties of the case are unable to connect to the judge and it creates problems in hearing. The evidence required to present to the Court is not transferred easily which affects the decisions of the Court. There is no man to man interaction which is needed for the Court to work.
The Virtual Court is an important means for providing justice in any adverse condition. It is a source of justice and the dignity of the Courts must be maintained in both online and offline platforms. A secure and protected platform is required for all the databases of the Court and it for recording the virtual working of it. More tech savvy institutes are needed for the regulation of video conferencing and virtual proceedings. The Ministry of Law and Justice along with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology should combine to form a better platform for online Courts. The various multinational companies which are owned by the government should provide their softwares for storing the information with security.
There should be no risk of hacking and stealing of the confidential information. Large telecommunication companies should provide better access to the internet all over the country to solve the issue of connectivity in the Virtual Courts. On the grass root level, the advocates should appoint a tech savvy person for helping with the Court procedures and should be familiar with the online working. Schools and universities should include the subject of Virtual Courts in legal courses. There is a need for virtual infrastructural development and growth for proper dispensation of justice. Along with the Virtual Courts, the normal Courts as well as Tribunals should also work for quick justice.
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