New Delhi: The COVID 19 pandemic continues to create significant health, social, economic and judicial challenges world-wide, forcing governments and businesses to critically assess the impact to their people, operations and governance. This is also the time for all stakeholders including the Government, judiciary, business, industry etc to review the pre-covid systems and procedures and come up with novel methodologies of operating by using technology.
CII’s Report on ‘Use of Technology in the Justice System’ explores the need and the manner in which technology can be infused in functioning of the Indian judicial system and consequent changes in existing laws that may be necessitated. It charts (i) global developments in the area; (ii) ascertains the need to migrate to an online dispute resolution system; (iii) discusses implementation of technology in the different stages of a civil trial starting from e-filing of pleadings through evidence to final arguments; and (iv) analyses factors that should guide the implementation of e-courts” said Mr Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, CII in a Press release issued here today.
The Report highlights how with social distancing becoming the new norm, as a means of preventing further spread of the virus, the Indian justice delivery system has had to let go of the age-old practice of hearings in a physical courtroom through physical paper pleadings. “While a shutdown of the physical Court system could have led to a nation-wide catastrophe, the Courts in India rose to the occasion, and shifting to “virtual hearings” overnight, to ensure that they continue to consistently deliver justice to the masses. E-filings of pleadings and hearings through video conferencing, though introduced and evolved as a means to overcome the limitations of the pandemic, have shown to possess a number of advantages that may be carried forward for times to come” CII stated.
The Report further underlines that with planned implementation, it is possible to shift completely to a system of online dispute resolution, where a matter may be completely handled remotely with e-filing of pleadings and remote hearing through videoconferencing. However, no shift in system can happen overnight. “As most litigants do not have access to computers or the internet, concepts like e-filing of pleadings and conducting hearings through video conferencing cannot be made mandatory for all litigants in the foreseeable future. Infusion of technology in the Indian justice system must be tailored to indigenous circumstances. There is no overhauling of existing laws that is necessary for migrating to the online dispute resolution system. What is required is a foresight and an appreciation of technological possibilities, CII emphasised.