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Virtual courts for traffic, petty offences come up in Chennai

Supreme Court Judge DY Chandrachud, the chairman of the apex court’s e-committee, inaugurated virtual courts in Chennai on Tuesday to adjudicate online petty offences and traffic challan cases. This would help do away with the presence of litigants and lawyers in such courts.

Virtual courts for traffic, petty offences come up in Chennai


Virtually inaugurating the courts for Tamil Nadu, Justice Chandrachud said, “We are in the phase three of the e-courts project and experts from outside the judiciary have been inducted for this exercise.”

Observing that the civil society has vital interest in the way judiciary discharges its duties, he said, “E Filing does not only mean filing over email. It means the old files are digitised to provide a dashboard for the Judges.” He also noted that through this process, the entire FIR would be uploaded and just not the bare shell of the FIR.

Justice Chandrachud also stressed on the need to train lawyers on e-courts. Though most young lawyers are more tech savvy than the judges, there are many of them who need training on e-courts, he said. To help lawyers who do not have adequate access to technology, there would be data entry operators at the Supreme Court, he added.

In his keynote address, Madras High Court Chief Justice AP Sahi described the inauguration of virtual courts as a historic moment redefining the functioning of courts. While acknowledging the concern that virtual courts were not a substitute for regular court, he said: “COVID-19 era should be used as an opportunity to make the use of technology.” Justice Sahi cited a scenario where a lawyer has to take a date in a magistrate court and attend a final hearing in a civil court on the same day. With virtual courts, the lawyer would find his burden lessened as the requirement for his physical presence at several places at the same time is reduced.

Referring to the apprehensions among advocates about virtual hearings, he said effective trained personnel can be stationed to train lawyers, helplines can be deployed and training modules put out. These can be implemented in the court premises itself, he added. In the virtual court system, when the State traffic control unit police generate an e-Challan for traffic violations, the challan would be sent in a digital form to the virtual courts. Thereafter, it would be disposed by a judicial officer in the rank of Metropolitan Magistrate / Judicial Magistrate and the violator could pay the fine online by clicking the link sent to him/her as SMS by the virtual court.

Justice TS Sivagnanam, chairman of the computer committee, spoke on the various e-court initiatives undertaken in Tamil Nadu. A guide on how to navigate the virtual traffic court system was also live-streamed.

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