Quoting Supreme Court Justice DY Chandrachud that virtual courts launched to settle traffic challan cases collected Rs 101.74 crore till date even without the parties having to assemble in the traditional brick and mortar courtroom, the committee in its report held that digital transformation of the judiciary has important implications for clearing the significant backlog of cases that is burdening the courts in India.
“Technology may, in fact, be a catalyst for simplifying processes and making manual processes redundant. It will make justice accessible and affordable to a large section of the population and help in overcoming physical and logistical barriers which prevent many litigants from seeking justice. Virtualised proceedings overcome distance, logistics, delays and costs that currently bedevil the court systems world over,” the report said. Noting that it fully understood that virtual courts have their own shortcomings, the committee opined that a full-fledged virtual court should be piloted as the first step.
“This allows the system to be tested in practice, which can then be refined in the light of the feedback received from different stakeholders. It also enables the judiciary to identify the type of cases best suited to virtual courts,” the committee said, seeking the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to employ tried and tested tools from across the world such as immersive tele presence technology and augmented reality systems to make virtual hearings more lifelike and engaging.
Also, seeking integration of virtual courts into the legal ecosystem, the committee sought the extension of the facility to private litigants who appear in person or have to travel to High Courts from different states, cities and places. This would go a long way in strengthening public confidence and improving perception about the reachability of the judicial system, the committee said while recommending virtual courts to cover arbitration hearings, conciliation and summary trials.
“For instance, if national and international arbitrations are allowed to be conducted through virtual courts, there will be hardly any requirement for real time travel to distant locations,” the report said.