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E-COURTS: A VISION OF FUTURE

Change is a measure of time. The sudden outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic forced the Supreme Court of India to temporally close the physical courts and resort to e-courts for the safety of the legal sector and justice seekers. Living in the age of advanced technology and artificial intelligence the vision to perceive the reality of virtual courts is very close to achieving.

What is an E-court?

e-courts
e-courts

An e-court or an electronic court means a location in which matter of law is adjudicated upon, in the presence of qualified judges, and which has a well-developed technological infrastructure. An e-court is different from a computerized court. In an e-court, everything is done in an online environment through the use of the internet and other Information and Communication Technology (ICT). However, a computerized court is nothing more than a court having a basic level of hardware and software.

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In an e-court, the entire work is executed digitally, the information that is shared and generated is stored as a database and synched to particular software. This software can be accessed by litigants, judges, and advocates. The primary intention of e-courts is to make the justice delivery system affordable, transparent, speedy, and accountable by limiting the paper filings.

Whereas, a virtual court is a concept which aims to eliminate the presence of litigant lawyer in the court and adjudication of the cases online.

E-courts – Not a Substitute to Physical Court

Virtual courts hearing will not substitute the hearings of physical courts. In India outbursts of pandemic resulted in quick decision making to set up a remote justice system because public health crises and closing courts have burdened and stopped the delivery of justice. E-courts have now become a reality which we only addressed as a vision of the future. The supreme court, which was under complete shutdown due to coronavirus threat has been hearing only extremely urgent cases since March 23, 2019, via video conferencing without the personal presence of lawyers.

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The video conferencing is conducted by the courts through downloading ‘JustIS’ mobile App and ‘Vidyo App’ which can be downloaded on phones and laptops. The service will be available round the clock which would mean that a lawyer can file a case any time of the day and any day irrespective of whether the registry is working or not. “Technology is an inseparable adjunct to the rule of law and will have to be employed as a critical element in court design. But it should be inclusive and should replace court procedures into manageable chunks. Our court procedures are tardy and unintelligible to common people.” (Justice DY Chandrachud, Supreme Court’s E-Committee Chairman)

Recent Achievement

India’s first e-court was opened at High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad on 17 July 2016. Telangana and Andhra Pradesh were the first two states in the country to be chosen for an Integrated Criminal Justice System (ICJS) project. ICJS is a system that integrates police stations, jails, prosecutions, and forensic science laboratories.

Setting up of e-Seva Kendra for as not everyone is well aware and introduction pf the e-filing module.

Advantages of setting up of e-courts

  1. Pendency and backlog of cases would be reduced as well as courthouse traffic would be diverted. 
  2. Entire information relating to the case would be available to the concerned authorities at the same place and computerization will secure the data.

Disadvantages of setting up of e-courts

  1. Poor infrastructure due to several reasons will hinder in the forms of insecure data and chances of data theft.
  2. Access to the internet and technology is still a major barrier like for example lengthy process of filing a case, lack of techno legal experts, and all evidence cannot be produced in a digital form.

The e-court project will envisage providing citizens for an efficient and time-bound centric service delivery. It will automate the process to provide transparency inaccessibility of information to its concerned member. The idea will enhance the judicial productivity both qualitatively and qualitatively to make the justice delivery system affordable, accessible, cost-efficient, reliable, and transparent. So yes, calling e-courts as future of justice system would not be wrong because switching physical courts to commencement of e-courts and function even in lockdown would not have been possible if we did not have a robust infrastructure system has been created in the past.


Nidhi

1st-year Law Student

Dharmashastra National Law University, Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh

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