CJI DY Chandrachud Inaugurates ‘Virtual High Courts’ In Odisha's 10 Districts
Chief Justice of India Dr. Justice Dhananjaya Y. Chandrachud on Friday virtually inaugurated ‘Virtual High Courts’ in 10 districts of Odisha. The event was attended by Chief Justice of Orissa High Court Dr. Justice S. Muralidhar and other Judges of the High Court.
With this inauguration, Odisha became the first State in the country to have Virtual High Courts in districts.
The Supreme Court in December, 2022, had taken note of technological advancements in Odisha, while hearing a case relating strike of protesting lawyers in district Sambalpur, who were demanding establishment of a permanent Bench of the High Court in Western Odisha. The Court had then noted,
“We are informed that from any District Court in Odisha, one can file a case in the High Court and also appear virtually. This has been possible with the technological progress. It is proposed that one dedicated room in every district Court premises in Odisha for the purposes of virtually appearing before the High Court every day will be functional soon and there can be adjacent back office to such room which will facilitate e-filing of cases in the High Court. The time period for operationalization of the same is stated to be in three months. We accept the same."
In the first phase, the High Court has come up with 10 Virtual High Courts in 10 different districts, i.e. Balasore, Berhampur at Ganjam, Bhadrak, Bhawanipatna at Kalahandi, Bhubaneswar at Khurda, Bolangir, Jeypore at Koraput, Puri, Rourkela at Sundargarh and Sambalpur. The remaining 20 districts of the State are likely to get the benefit by the month of March this year.
Out of the current pending caseload of around 1.7 lakh cases in the High Court, around 72,760 cases were filed from the ten districts, with the highest from Khurda district from where around 27,160 cases have been filed.
The districts were also chosen in a manner that will make it easy for those in the neighbouring districts within a radius of 100 KMs to use the facilities of the Virtual High Court. For example, the Virtual High Court facility in Sambalpur can be accessed by those in the neighbouring districts of Bargarh, Deogarh, Jharsuguda and Angul.
Facilities In Virtual High Courts
These Virtual High Court Centres will have video conferencing facilities, and importantly, a ‘Back Office’ where it will be possible for lawyers to e-file their cases with assistance from staff or officer dedicated for that purpose. Advocates or parties in person not familiar with computers can hand over the hard copy of the petition to the staff at the Back Office who will then scan and prepare and e-file the petition.
The following services will be available through digital mode in these Virtual High Courts:
- Scrutiny of e-filed cases and removal of defects.
- Numbering of the cases.
- Listing of cases including mentioning before the High Court in virtual mode.
- Submission of application for and issuance of certified copies of the orders and judgments.
The High Court has supplied the following ICT devices to the districts for functioning of the Virtual High Courts:
- 55 inches Television (for appearing before the Benches of the High Court);
- Speakers (for clear audibility);
- Document Visualizer (for display of the documents during hearing of the cases);
- Stand cameras and microphones (so that the Advocates can be clearly visible and audible to the Benches);
- Computers, printers and scanners.
Deployment Of Staff & Training Sessions
The High Court has deputed a trained Assistant Section Officer (ASO) and a Group D employee to each of the 10 districts to run the Back Office in the initial phase. The local staff in each of the districts will be trained to take over after a few months. The High Court has also planned to conduct hands-on training sessions for lawyers, law clerks and staff in the districts to make them conversant with use of the facilities available in Virtual High Courts.
The High Court has also notified the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the lawyers to utilise the facilities. Further, it has also issued detailed guidelines for functioning of Virtual High Courts in districts along with several administrative guidelines to the District Judges with respect to functioning of such Courts.