Author: Sambodhi Mishra, a Student in; Banasthali Vidyapith

The virus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome, is the source of COVID-19, also referred to as the coronavirus disease 2019. A worldwide pandemic has resulted from the virus, which was initially discovered in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. COVID-19 is mainly transmitted by respiratory droplets that are released when an infected individual talks, sneezes, or coughs. Additionally, it can be transmitted by touching infected surfaces and then touching the face.

For months, our nation was completely shut down, which had an impact on a number of factors including the unemployment rate, the decline in education as it moved to an online format, the state of the healthcare system, the rise in the prevalence of mental health disorders, etc. There was heavy lockdown everywhere no one is allowed to go out the government has also declared to stay at home. In this crucial time everything was closed and courts are also closed which impact a lot in Indian legal system.

The virus threats some legal system of our country courts were went through online mode from the physical courts. As it never happened before, we see that some proceedings were done through online mode a couple of times, but now all the proceedings judgments are done online. As it was difficult because if we see in lower courts the arrangements weren’t good enough and also the victims and the accused, who also belong from villages and towns where the possibility of internet is not good enough, as well as they don’t have mobile phones or laptops for the hearing of the cases, some of them didn’t know how to use the mobile phones or laptops, these things were making difficulties in the legal system.

Changes in Indian legal system;

 Then hearings took place virtually, with attorneys presenting their cases in the same way as they had in the past—by presenting evidence and questioning witnesses—and judges rendering decisions or orders. The electronic version of the vakalatnama, documents, petitions, affidavits, etc., were filed and recorded. Through online portals, litigants could be informed about the progress of their cases. Through video conference, the inmates could communicate with members of their families. The detainees were presented on virtual platforms for observation and analysis. Because of the virtual platforms, the trials were transparent and completed quickly. Many prisoners were granted temporary bail due to prison cell congestion and overcrowding. The setup of e-courts facilitates litigants’ 24/7 complaint filing from any location in the nation. The public could watch the practice of live streaming proceedings online. The online promotion of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Above things shows that justice is not delayed in anyways specially for the people who were in custody.

The largest backlog of cases pending in India’s judiciary, The total number of cases pending at every level of the judicial hierarchy has increased dramatically over the past ten years, according to a report published in the National Judicial Date Grid. There has been a 22% increase in the total number of cases pending in all courts since 2006. In the Supreme Court, High Courts, and lower courts, there were more than 3.5 crore cases pending as of August 2019. Subordinate courts handle more than 87.3% of these cases, with the 24 High Courts handling the remaining 12.5% of cases. The Supreme Court is currently handling the remaining 0.2% of cases.

Chief Justice SA Bobde led a bench that declared that each high court would have the authority to decide on the appropriate procedures for the temporary switchover to video conferencing technologies, “consistent with the peculiarities of the judicial system in every state and the dynamically developing public health situation.”‘  The Supreme Court’s directives, issued on April 6, 2020, directing the nationwide video conferencing (VC) of court proceedings during the COVID-19 pandemic are a welcome step. In general, the 

The Supreme Court has mandated as that all High Courts will use virtual and collaborative technologies to ensure their continued operation, and that they will determine the specifics of this use after taking pertinent factors into account. Additionally, all state District Courts are required to implement VC technologies as directed by the relevant High Court.  In the event that a litigant lacks access to these resources, the court will make VC facilities available to them and directed to adhere to the guidelines regarding the use of VC technologies until further notice is not provided by the High court. Thus, until further orders are issued by the Supreme Court, the directives will stay in effect.

To maintain the uninterrupted administration of justice while adhering to social distancing norms and preventing the spread of the second wave of this contagious virus, Indian courts have once again turned to virtual court rooms. It should be mentioned that virtual courts are not a very new idea in India. In State of Maharashtra v. Prafulla Desai, the Supreme Court of India ruled in 2003 that a court’s video conferencing evidence recording process must be done “as per the procedure established by law.” Since then, a number of India’s subordinate courts have established guidelines in this regard and conducted legal proceedings.

Looming Challenges to the Legal Culture: 

Although the switch to virtual proceedings had many advantages, there were also drawbacks, including;

  1. Lawyers who are not familiar with virtual platforms may exhibit technophobia.
  2. Connectivity problems that impede people from different backgrounds from accessing justice. 
  3. Worries about invasions of privacy in online proceedings.
  4. Increased joblessness among advocates, with first-generation attorneys being most affected.
  5. Assessing accused people’s behaviour and evidence in virtual environments can be challenging.

In actuality, the current legal system is completely out of date, out of step with democratic norms and procedures, and it serves the interests of a select group of vested interests in society. The courts have a unique chance to envision a justice delivery system that can operate normally at all levels in the event of an emergency. Among the many related needs for justice modernization is the online court. We must adjust to changing circumstances as they arise. Therefore, in light of COVID-19, we must adjust to new ways in which the judiciary operates.


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