Justice must prevail in the toughest times as vocalized by Churchill The then
Prime minister of Great Britain exclaimed during the Germans bombing London when
he was briefed on the casualties and economic collapse. He asked, Are the
When told that the judges were dispensing justice as
normal, Churchill replied, Thank God. If the courts are working, nothing can go
Internet can be used at all junctures of proceedings from filing till order.
Court rooms are changing as technological advancements have over taken which is
dependent on computers and information technology. Suddenly, virtual hearings
can't take over conventional court rooms. But, our goal is clear.
India in the current scenario functions with three kinds of Courts:
- Conventional Courts - Located in a court complex where physical presence
is imperative of judges, litigants and lawyers.
- Online court-where only the judicial officer (The Judge) is physically
present in the court
- Virtual Courts - where neither the judge nor the lawyer is present. The
judgement is dependent on Artificial Intelligence where the order is passed
according to the inputs made by the litigant.
Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology have defined Virtual Courts
as A facility that has been provided for Litigants to file the plaint
electronically through e-Filing and also pay the Court Fees or Fine
online.Litigant can view the status of the case also online through various
channels created for service delivery.
Virtual Court is a concept aimed at omitting the presence of litigant or lawyer
in the court and adjudication of the case online.
Virtual courts are not up to minute courts Tihar Jail already initiated the
system in the past known as Tihar Pilot Project under which the procedure
postulates prisoners being produced in courts not physically but through video
conferencing. It is called a Pilot Project as Pilot denoted routine remand cases
of prisoners. Several Courts have adopted the Project with certain variations.
Open Court System
The open court principle is enshrined in the Constitution of India under Article
145(4) ; Section 327 of Criminal Procedure Court,1973 and section 153 B Code of
Civil Procedure and Article 19 preserves the Freedom of speech and expression
with Freedom of Press the principle protects a broad scope of activities such as
Public Attending trials and Open for media house personals etc.
Only under special and limited cases as prescribed by law does the court have
the power of deviating from Open Court forum. The Apex Court of The Country has
reaffirmed the principle in the following judgements with passage of time
In Naresh Shridhar Vs State of Maharashtra
 it was held that Public
trial in open court is undoubtedly essential for the healthy, objective and fair
administration of justice. Trial held subject to the public scrutiny and gaze
naturally acts as a check against judicial caprice or vagaries and serves as a
powerful instrument for creating confidence of the public in the fairness,
objectivity, and impartiality of the administration of justice.
In the case Krishna Veni Nagam Vs Harish Nagam
- the case dealt with
Section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, where both parties were not located
within the jurisdiction of the same court, referred the parties to participate
in the matrimonial dispute cases through video conferencing.
The difficulties faced was conceded by the Hon'ble Supreme Court that it is
appropriate to use videoconferencing technology where both the parties have
equal difficulty due to lack of place convenient to both the parties.
Proceedings may be conducted on videoconferencing, obviating the needs of the
party to appear in person, wherever one or both the parties make a request for
use of videoconferencing,
The Veni Nigam's case
was overruled by the Apex court in Santhini v.
 by a 2:1 majority. The then Chief Justice of India,
Dipak Mishra and Justice AK Khanwilkar resolved - in transfer petition, video
conferencing cannot be directed. Whereas, Justice DY Chandrachud wrote the
judgement in favour of the use of modern technology and video conferencing. His
school of thought has been mentioned below:
- The Family Courts Act, 1984 was enacted at a point in time when modern
technology which enabled persons separated by spatial distances to
communicate with each other face to face was not fully developed. There is
no reason for the court which sets precedent for the nation to exclude the
application of technology to facilitate the judicial process.
- Imposing an unwavering requirement of personal and physical presence
(and exclusion of facilitative technological tools such as video
conferencing) will result in a denial of justice.
The Open Court System can be traced back to the year 1215 enshrined in the
clause 40 of the Magna Carta To no one will we sell, to no one will we refuse or
delay, right or justice.It is this clause that postulated for the very first
time the idea for subsequent eloquent constitutional principles.
The world wide pandemic outbreak has dragged the legal fraternity further into
21 century. The Supreme Court passed a Suo Moto writ under which Guidelines for
court functioning through video- conferencing during the pandemic was
mentioned.Both the high court and supreme court have adopted a robust
mechanism for filling, hearing of cases on all levels. The Apex court has also
formulated that the high courts of respective states will draw up rules for
video conferencing in district courts.
The same has been incorporated by the seven district courts in national capital.
Moreover, the facility for e- filing has been made available at district courts.
The physical movement of files and documents is paramount at the district level
rather than high courts and that adds on to the challenge. The litigants are
being presented by advocates through video conferencing but under exceptional
cases where the judge feels the requirement of having a physical hearing such as
in the case of bail.
Internationally countries like England, Singapore and Canada have shown us the
way as in the England passed Access to justice act ,1999;Singapore has set up
technological courts and Canada the Ontario rules for civil procedure allows
testimonial disposition through video conferencing and many such initiatives
have been taken throughout the world
Accessibility to justice -Article 39 -A directs the state to ensure proper
functioning of legal system. But, it becomes difficult to ensure the same
through virtual hearing as India is not a country with such infrastructure
advancements and illimitable digital literacy. Only half the population of the
country has access to the internet. The rural population has 290 million data
network users in comparison to 337 million urban internet users. Therefore, large
percentage of population can not have access to justice through virtual hearing.
False witness and evidence - Cross examination plays a vital role in unfolding
the truth with the help of facial expressions, body language etc which cannot be
detected over the internet and the probability of having false testification
increase. This is added by complications of internet glitches.
Identity theft- The chances of disguised identity can increase. According to
the due process of court a litigant had to give proofs for their identity as
well as that of clients. without human supervision and a global rise in identity
threat might increase. another aspect is non actors being able to accumulate key
- Distance- Topography in India has always played a crucial
role. Usually it is noticed that their is yawning gap between the distance of
Delhi where the supreme court is situated to High Courts.As a result , a lot
litigants don't file an appeal this orifice can be filled.
Resource and infrastructure consumption can decrease drastically for both the
litigant and lawyer.with video conferencing being the new norm the rise in fee
for particular geographical reasons, Paper consumptions, time -consumption etc
be can decreased.
These tumultuous time have not only put the judiciary under the test of the
times but also have given an opportunity to make most of the pandemic by
improvising the shortcomings in the legal system. We have an opportunity to
innovate in terms of technology and procedure And introspect our existing
practices in court that could be better utilized. Indian courts could examines
soft law instruments to evolve their own practices and guidelines.
Internet can help us in many ways such as decreasing the work load, scrutinizing
the cases, filing procedure, Management systems etc The inculcation of technology
in our court rooms will be a gradual one but one that courts should think of
- AIR 1 1966 SCR (3) 744
- Transfer petition (CIVIL) NO. 1912 OF 2014
- Transfer Petition (Civil)NO.1278 OF 2016.
- Suo Moto Writ Petition (Civil) No. 5/2020.
Authentication No: AG021935487211-6-820