e-Courts – Accessing Justice Online
With Indian courts too under a lockdown, citizens have severely restricted access to justice for this period. Hence, the system calls for exploring the idea of e-courts.
Kerala High Court example –
- Technology, however, now provides us an opportunity to meet the challenge headlong. The Kerala High Court did exactly that on March 30, 2020.
- It created history by not only conducting proceedings through video conferencing but also live streaming the proceedings.
- The judges conducted the hearing from their homes. Nearly 30 urgent matters were taken up for hearing, including bail applications and writ petitions, and were disposed of.
- The advocates concerned and law officers also participated in the proceedings from their respective offices.
A blueprint for e-courts –
- To achieve this, the government must establish an effective task force consisting of judges, technologists, court administrators, skill developers and system analysts to draw up a blueprint for institutionalising online access to justice.
- Such a task force must be charged with the responsibility of establishing hardware, software and IT systems for courts; examining application of artificial intelligence benefiting from the data base generated through e-courts projects; establishing appropriate e-filing systems and procedures; and creating skill training and recognition for paralegals to understand and to help advocates and others to access the system to file their cases and add to their pleadings and documents as the case moves along.
- Once the blueprint is ready, the High Courts across the country may refer the same to the Rule Committee of the High Court to frame appropriate rules to operationalise the e-court system.
Role of Legal Services Authorities –
- If there is difficulty in accessing these schemes, a system must be set in place for the applicant to lodge online complaints with the Legal Services Authorities who can then ensure accountability and effective implementation.
- The local panchayat, municipal or corporation office, or any well-intentioned NGO can assist the complainant to make these online complaints to the Legal Services Authority if the complainant is unable to do so directly.
- The officers under the Legal Services Authorities Act may then be authorised to hear the complaints online and to direct delivery of redress to the aggrieved complainant in accordance with the law in a time-bound manner.
Way forward –
- This is just one of the myriad ways in which access to justice can be enhanced exponentially while simultaneously reducing the burden on conventional courts.
- The other facilities that would help access to justice are online mediation, arbitration, counselling in family court matters, quick settlement of disputed insurance claims, and many more.
India is a land where skilled human resource is rarely lacking. If we can pick up the will power to do all of the above, justice will become an accessible concept to everyone.
Source – The Hindu
QUESTION – Examine the feasibility of e-courts in delivering justice to the aggrieved citizens.