On 25th March 2020, India came to a standstill as the Prime Minister of India announced a nationwide lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. On 15th April, 2020, when the world realised that the pandemic is not slowing but only increasing, the Indian judiciary started virtual courts and shifted to digitization of all the paperwork. The Supreme Court & Various High Courts started hearing cases through live streaming to impart justice.
By shifting to the online courts, the justice delivery process has become smoother. Many courts & jurists have supported & applauded this technology shift & few people have even approached the supreme court asking the virtual courts to be continued instead of the physical courts.
An e-courts committee has also been formed by the supreme court which regulates & looks into the matters or glitches related to the smooth functioning of the virtual courts until resume of physical hearings.
Advantages of virtual court-
- Cheap cost: Getting involved in a court case is a little expensive. The client has to pay for their travel & accommodation as well as for the lawyers too, virtual courts have allowed huge cost cutting for the clients, making approaching the court very cheap.
- Safe environment for witnesses: Witnesses can give their statements from the comfort of their home in a safe environment. Also, testimony by children, women & differently- abled & victims of abuse are more convenient & less traumatic when give through virtual courts.
- No geographical barrier for lawyers: They can argue from anywhere, leading to the cost & time efficiency.
- Increased Productivity- Many judges have affirmed that virtual courts allows a judge to complete the work of 20 judges. It has also led to the better interaction between lawyers & judges.
- Advantage for Remote areas: People belonging to remote areas can easily approach the high court & the supreme court without worrying about the travel, accommodation expenses from the comfort of their homes.
- Transparency: All the court proceedings are open to be viewed by all the lawyers or clients without anyone questioning them.
- Digital signing: Digital signing has fastened the applicability of orders such as bail orders.
- Many cases can be argued in a single day- A lawyer can argue case in different states sitting at one place, which will lead to less delay in justice.
- Saves paper: Since, virtual courts take place in online mode, presentation of documents in printed form is not required. Thus, councils can exchange their pleadings & submit documents in the court through online mode.
- Engage lawyer of own choice: Virtual courts have allowed lawyers to appear from any corner of the world. Now, the client can approach any lawyer of their choice without worrying of the miscellaneous expenses.
Although virtual courts are very efficient & resource friendly, but they are only until the physical hearings resume. The Supreme Court recently in a case held that the virtual courts have only taken place because of the pandemic, as soon as things go back to normalcy, the physical courts shall resume its working.
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