8 Jun 2021 5:14 AM GMT
Dr Justice D Y Chandrachud, Chairperson of the Supreme Court e-Committee has addressed a letter to the Chief Justices of all the High Courts, stating that it may not be possible to conduct physical Court hearings due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and courts may resort to hybrid model of hearing for some time.It therefore proceeds to authorize the High Courts to make VC arrangements on...
Dr Justice D Y Chandrachud, Chairperson of the Supreme Court e-Committee has addressed a letter to the Chief Justices of all the High Courts, stating that it may not be possible to conduct physical Court hearings due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and courts may resort to hybrid model of hearing for some time.
It therefore proceeds to authorize the High Courts to make VC arrangements on any platform of their choice and re-appropriating available funds in case they face any issues with the present VC platform.
"Considering the present situation of the pandemic, consistent with the need to protect the safety of lawyers, litigants, court staff, judges and other stake-holders, it may not be possible to conduct only physical hearings of court proceedings and we may have to rely upon a hybrid model of hearing for some time. We need to plan effectively to be able to deal with all exigencies," the letter dated June 7 read.
Justice Chandrachud noted that over the past months of virtual hearings, concerns have been raised by advocates, Bar Associations and litigants about the difficulties faced by them while participating in court proceedings conducted through video conferencing.
Poor connectivity, inferior audio-video quality and failure to accommodate all the lawyers who appear in a case at a time are some of the issues flagged by them. These concerns raised by vital stake-holders need to be urgently redressed. The co-operation of the Bar and litigants is crucial for the efficient dispensation of justice, he said.
"The vision of the e-Committee of the Supreme Court of India is to establish a judicial system which is inclusive, efficient and equitable. Promoting and enabling technology driven courts is one such step towards making justice accessible and affordable for all persons. The virtual court system must be effective and provide equitable access to all users. It has to be efficacious and must inspire confidence amongst users to fulfill the guarantee of access to justice under Article 21 of the Constitution. The onus falls on us to strengthen and streamline justice dispensation through virtual courts," the letter reads.
Justice Chandrachud has also acknowledged that 96,74,257 cases were examined through VC during pandemic by High Courts and District Courts as on 30 April 2021.
"During the COVID-19 pandemic, the e-Committee innovatively adopted ICT tools to ensure dispensation of justice in a seamless manner. During the course of the pandemic, 96,74,257 cases (High Courts: 33,76,408 and District Courts: 62,97,849) were heard by courts through video conferencing from 25 March 2020 till 30 April 2021 using the digital infrastructure provided by the e-Courts project. Globally, India has been at the forefront in conducting cases through video conferencing during the pandemic," stated the letter.
The Supreme Court Judge further highlighted that the SC e-Committee is working on the modalities for adopting one video conferencing solution for all courts across India.
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"the High Courts may opt for a suitable video conferencing solution from any of the available options till the e-Committee comes up with one video conferencing solution for all courts. For reappropriation of the allotted funds or any finance related query to secure video conferencing licenses or for upgradation of existing video conferencing systems, you may request the Computer Committee of the High Court to seek the assistance of Mr Ramesh Babu, Member (Project Management), e-Committee. Our team in the e-Committee will deal with all such requests with the highest priority and will be closely monitoring the situation," the letter added.