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Let virtual courts stay: law panel:

Topics Covered: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

Let virtual courts stay: law panel:


Context:

Parliamentary Panel on Law and Justice has Submitted its report “Functioning of the Virtual Courts/ Courts Proceedings through Video-Conferencing”.

  • This is the first report to be presented by any parliamentary panel on the impact of the pandemic.

Key recommendations:

  1. Continue virtual courts even in a post-COVID scenario.
  2. Transfer of certain categories of cases, like cases pertaining to traffic challans or other petty offences, from regular court establishments to virtual courts will reduce the pendency of cases.
  3. Infrastructure needs to be upgraded especially in district courts to implement this.
  4. Ministry of Law and Justice and Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology should address data privacy and data security concerns while developing a new platform for India’s judicial system.

What are the challenges present?

  1. The present infrastructure does not support virtual court proceedings.
  2. Almost 50% lawyers, particularly in district courts, do not have any laptop or computer facility.
  3. Many witnesses have said the virtual court hearings, especially during peak hours when many people log into the video-conferencing system, was subject to frequent crashes of the system and said entire proceedings can be vitiated by one glitch.
  4. There were also concerns that virtual courts will compromise privacy of data as well as confidentiality of discussions and court proceedings (For instance, courts in the United States had to deal with Zoom bombing — an unwanted intrusion by hackers and internet trolls into a video conference call).

What are virtual courts?

Virtual Court is a concept aimed at eliminating presence of litigant or lawyer in the court and adjudication of the case online.

  • An e-court or Electronic Court means a location in which matters of law are adjudicated upon, in the presence of qualified Judge(s) and which has a well-developed technical infrastructure.

The eCourts Project:

It was conceptualized on the basis of the “National Policy and Action Plan for Implementation of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in the Indian Judiciary – 2005” submitted by eCommittee, Supreme Court of India with a vision to transform the Indian Judiciary by ICT enablement of Courts.

The eCourts Mission Mode Project, is a Pan-India Project, monitored and funded by Department of Justice, Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of India for the District Courts across the country.

  • As on date, 16845 district and subordinate courts have been IT enabled.

The project envisages:

  1. To provide efficient & time-bound citizen centric services delivery as detailed in eCourt Project Litigant’s Charter.
  2. To develop, install & implement decision support systems in courts.
  3. To automate the processes to provide transparency in accessibility of information to its stakeholders.
  4. To enhance judicial productivity, both qualitatively & quantitatively, to make the justice delivery system affordable, accessible, cost effective, predictable, reliable and transparent.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Who is authorised to appoint other place or places as seat of the Supreme Court?
  2. eCourts Project was launched by?
  3. What is a mission mode project?
  4. About law commission- composition and functions.

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of virtual courts.

Sources: the Hindu.