Virtual courts are now the new trend all over the world. The concept of virtual courts came along with the COVID-19. The virtual courts mainly helps judges and advocates to coordinate online regarding a matter. The term social distancing is coupled with COVID-19 and this is followed successfully through this. At this time as well, recognizing that a complete shut-down of the justice-delivery system is unimaginable, judicial administrators have turned to technology to meet the challenges posed by the situation. Various judicial and quasi-judicial bodies, led by the Supreme Court, have been conducting hearings online after that and that too mainly urgent matters while all the interim orders were extended. However, these measures are commendable, they are not at all sufficient. The following reasons of the measures are hereby as :
The virtual system of functioning by courts has not been adopted by all judiciary institutions across the country.
Various institutions which have adopted this system have only been employing it for select matters.
Standing at the current situation the upcoming future is unpredictable. In the current situation like this it is not possible for anyone to say that for how long the so called described term ‘social distancing’ directives and restrictions will be on movement and will remain in force. It is likely to say that the preventive measures will be continued for some time even after the present threat has subsided.
In the present circumstances, it is essential that the judiciary machinery takes steps not only to remain operational but to achieve maximum functionality (as far as may be) at the earliest. The process of virtual courts can be of great assistance in achieving goal for the advocates specially without travelling and cut of various costs.
The Apex Court, on 6th of April 2020, for the conduct of court proceedings across the country virtually through the technologies, during the period of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic as a welcome step. Broadly, the directed thereafter as :
All the Apex Court of the State shall ensure functioning of the judicial system through use of technologies and to this end, shall decide the modalities for use of technologies after considering relevant factors. All the District courts in every state shall adopt the technological process prescribed by the appropriate High Court. Courts shall make virtual facilities available for some specific litigants who do not have access to these facilities, including by appointment of advocates as “amicus curiae” and making such facilities available to such advocates if needed. Till the time where all the High Courts frame their rules in this regard that virtual technologies shall primarily be used for hearing arguments, both, at the trial as well as appellate stages. However, evidences shall not be recorded using VC facilities except the parties with their mutual consent. The directions shall remain in force until any further orders are passed by the Supreme Court for any changes. In the history of the judicial system, the decision to make proceedings being conducted in the time of COVID-19 accessible to all via live-streaming is a welcome move for the future practitioner’s. While doing this, all courts have sustained a primary principle of the justice system, such as justice must not only be done but seen to be done.