by Amrit Behera
This article will mainly focus on the importance of online court and will list down the limitations that come with the online court. And at the end it will also suggest ways through which this problems can be solved. And it will conclude by focusing upon the future impact of the electronic courts in the society.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Indian judiciary system got no other option other than to continue the court on an online platform. The Supreme Court of India had passed directions for all the courts across India to use the medium of video-conferencing for judicial proceedings. Under Article 142, the Supreme Court used its plenary power to order all high courts over the country to create a systematic procedure which will further help them to use the available technology during the pandemic. The practice of online court has been taking place from 25th March 2020 with the sole motive of maintaining social distance.
The Concept of Virtual Courts
The main objective of virtual courts is to eliminate the presence of litigants or lawyers in the court of law as this will help to maintain social distancing and will also help in adjudicating the cases through an online platform. The virtual courts can also be known as e-courts or electronic court. The concept of electronic courts can be explained as a place where legal issues are decided in the presence of qualified judges and with the help of a well-developed technological infrastructure. The electronic courts are totally different from the computerized courts that have been replaced way before from 1990s. In order for proper functioning of electronic courts online environment and an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) enabled infrastructure is required.[i]
- The goal of electronic courts is to make judicial processes more user-friendly.
- This would be advantageous in terms of enhancing court processes as well as providing citizen-centric services.
- Litigants can use e-Filing to file their complaint and pay their court fees and fines online.
- Litigants can check the status of their case online using different variety of service delivery mechanisms.
Advantages of using electronic courts
The growth in the electronic courts will result in easy accessibility for all the sections of the society to justice at the assigned courts. The electronic court system will provide a much more private and personalised experience in comparison to the actual courts as the electronic court do not involve any public- speech based system. If the necessary logistics are provided, the spread of electronic courts will speed up the process of litigation. With the use of electronic courts, India’s judicial system can overcome the hurdles and make the service delivery mechanism transparent and cost-effective. The judicial system will also be benefited from electronic courts, which will allow for more flexible retrieval of recorded information. Judges will be able to see past case hearings or retrieve other crucial papers with the press of a button.[ii]
In today’s world the existence of virtual courts might seem necessary but the technology that we have today is not sufficient enough to tackle the shortcomings that take place during the execution.[iii] The following will list down some of the issues that are been faced while using the electronic courts:
- The general public faces a lot of complications while going through the process of e-filling.
- The development of the electronic courts is an expensive procedure as setting up of this will require a much developed and new age technology.
- In most of the rural areas of India, challenges can arise due to the lack of infrastructure and lack of electricity and internet connectivity. It must also be made sure that both electricity with that of a proper internet with computers must reach out to ever section of the society in order to ensure justice.
- The staff will face a lot of difficulty in maintaining records of electronic courts. The assigned staff lacks the necessary equipment and training to adequately handle document or record evidence and make it accessible to the litigant, the council, and the court.
- The biggest problem that the courts might face is of hacking and cyber security. The government has taken attempts to address the problem and developed the Cyber Security Strategy, but it is mostly focused on following prescribed rules. It remains to be seen how this will be implemented in real life.
- Other problems might arise such as the litigant becoming under confident in following the processes approved by the Supreme Court due to the lack of juxtaposition.
The first and foremost step to be taken by the government is to plan up a proper procedure that would encourage in setting up of the electronic courts. The second important step to be taken is to upgrade the present state of infrastructure and technology. The government must identify and create the necessary infrastructure to enable the electronic court project. The government must create a secure online ecosystem where there must be no chances of data breach. This will prove a secure platform where the electronic courts can take place. There is a need to develop a user friendly ecosystem is this this attract more people to use the electronic courts unlike the present ecosystem. To manage all of the e-data, the government must devote significant resources to human training. These include keeping accurate records of e-file minute entries, notification, service, summons, warrants, bail orders, order copies, and e-filing, among other things, for future reference.[iv] Conducting training workshops for judges to familiarise them with the electronic courts structure and procedure can help electronic courts run more smoothly. Increasing awareness of electronic courts through speeches and seminars can help to bring the benefits and convenience that e-courts can provide to light.
As the technology is developing every day, so achieving the above mentioned is a piece of cake. It might take time but the day is not far that we will be having an efficient and effective electronic court system.
Even after the Courts resume normal operations and the lockdown is lifted, it is advisable to keep the option of e-filing and electronic courts accessible as it will strengthen the system. This will assist the assigned staff, the Bar, and the Bench in becoming accustomed to the method, as well as assisting us in identifying and correcting its weaknesses.
While video conferencing has its own advantages, it also necessitates a significant amount of training, discipline, and basic infrastructure, all of which can only be achieved if all parties work together to reach this milestone in the country’s judicial administration system.
[i] The Big Picture – Virtual Courts and Way forward, (2020), https://www.drishtiias.com/loksabha-rajyasabha-discussions/the-big-picture-virtual-courts-and-way-forward (last visited Jul 6, 2021).
[ii] E-Courts: Supreme Court’s digitalisation vision will ease access to justice – The Financial Express, (2021), https://www.financialexpress.com/opinion/e-courts-supreme-courts-digitalisation-vision-will-ease-access-to-justice/2258945/ (last visited Jul 6, 2021).
[iii] The Supreme Court is online: Pros, cons and the way forward for hearings by video conferencing, (2020), https://www.barandbench.com/columns/the-supreme-court-is-online (last visited Jul 6, 2021).
[iv] The Big Picture – Virtual Courts and Way forward, supra note 1.
[v] Picture Credit: BloombergQuint
23 thoughts on “ONLINE COURT: A MERE RECOURSE OR IDEALISTIC VISIONS”
That’s really nice
The current pandemic has compelled the courts to continue the proceedings in online mediums. While, the ‘E-courts’ are feasible, they also face certain privacy issues and may need further improvements. This article highlights the pros and cons really well.
Very well written! Keep up the good work!
Wonderful research and excellent analysis.
Wow. Well written
A very well written paper.
Good job brother..❤️❤️
A great article.
And a great research done.
Impressed by the way of presentation. Good job 👌🏻
The issues of having online courts are rightly pointed out. More efficiency to be enforced in order to reach the lower courts.
Really appropriate for the current situation.
And a well explained article.
A great research article indeed.
A great article.
LikeLiked by 1 person
thankyou for the comment