Virtual Courtrooms and Technological Advancement

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Courts, Tribunals, Commissioner Offices, Authorities, etc. The houses of justice, we call them, shutting their doors in view of this pandemic. The Judiciary is almost amongst the oldest pillar of Indian constitution and its base. There are almost 672 district courts, 25 High Courts and a Supreme Court of India, other than the Tribunals and other justice houses.

The Lockdown of 2020 has proved that the key to move forward is to be prepared at all times. Indian courts were not completely prepared for the lockdown but even was not struck by the same. The intelligent minds of the industry and the technological savvy professionals never lost hope and worked through the continuance of justice. It is surely a fact that a robust infrastructure was already present in our courts and that is why the legal industry could continue giving justice and was working at its capacity in accordance with our needs.

Imagine this lockdown two decades ago. A mere thought of it would have definitely shocked you, imagining the completely shut systems and closed judiciary. The same would have been very harsh on the people of our country. This would have not just included the victims and complainants but would also have wrecked the life of the Lawyers and Litigants, much more than that in the current situation.

According to reports, such lockdowns will move towards the upper side of graph and might stay longer with days coming by. We, as a community, should be ready for more such upcoming battles. The primary weapons being high technology units such as computer systems and on the other hand, ammunitions which will involve every person who is willing to survive in such critical situations. The Indian Judiciary and its professionals are respectively the weapons and ammunitions for justice in this country. It is hereby very important to teach and educate the young professionals, the needs and variation of the industry.

Furthermore, in my opinion, the Law Schools in India should be given this responsibility to educate students about technology and in ways where the aspirants keep themselves technologically updated. As per the current situation, it is not that the students are not friendly with computers and other advancement, but the same should ensure that every student and professional should at least stand on the basics and updates of it. However, In comparison to any other industry, the legal fraternity is least expected to be technological savvy as the field mandates physical presence of the professional and the present exception to this scenario is now seen after so many years in this present lockdown.

It is also important to note that the Bar Councils should also take responsibility over this and ensure that their curriculum should include the knowledge of basic technology. The Bar Councils in every state should ensure that their ‘to be’ professionals are technologically updated or not and, also to ensure that, will they be able to work in an environment, such as in the present one. It is most pertinent to mention here that, the clients are highly affected due to a technologically illiterate professional which further leads to delay in the justice system and affects the economy.  

However, at this stage of the lockdown where the Centre has declared Unlock 1.0, the courts are still awaiting to reopen on 15.06.2020. The most important reason of the same being that the most urgent matters were anyways being heard by the Hon’ble Courts and justice with respect to them was never hindered.  

Hence, Virtual hearing is not only in need with the ongoing crisis but it would also help to build a better bridge between pursuance of rights by litigants and the legal system. The establishment of virtual courts will also cut down voluminous paperwork in the legal system. Besides this would add efficiency in the legal system, functioning of lawyers, judges and the litigants. The COVID has initiated making virtual courts a reality but not to the state of a fully functional all India virtual court system. Ongoing digitisation and its impact can be seen in the Indian legal system. The current crisis no doubt has sent a red alert to the system to take a leap in e-court projects of making virtual courts in India a reality considering the importance of the legal system for a common man. We are living in age of technology and its aid to improve and better access any system should be explored fully for a functional democracy.

Therefore, it could be concluded that the present scenario where we have surpassed the majority period of this lockdown, taking along the judiciary is the best ways possible, we should herein be prepared with the upcoming surprises and therefore, not depend ourselves over the physical presence of the lawyers and the clients. These kind of lockdowns, not only needs us to be immune physically but also requires us to be immune mentally from all the setback thinking and should adapt constant change which is also most relevant in the present scenario.   

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Akshay Maloo
Advocate Akshay Maloo Karwasra and Associates, New Delhi Akshay practices in Civil Commercial Laws, Real Estate Laws, Corporate Laws, Family Laws, Arbitration and Mediation, etc. Akshay is a Delhi University alumni and is also pursuing Company Secretary course from the ICSI. Akshay litigates in almost all the courts across Delhi and has valuable experience in drafting and presenting cases before the hon'ble courts. Akshay has a pleasing personality and surely has great conversation skills.