Continue virtual courts in post-COVID-19 period as digital justice is faster, cheaper: Par panel

Published: 11 September, 2020 15:40 IST | PTI | New Delhi

After examining various provisions, mentions and glossaries with regard to the definition of court, the Committee opined that the court is more a service than a place.

Bombay High Court | Representational Image
Bombay High Court | Representational Image

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice in its report submitted on Friday recommended continuation of virtual courts for identified categories of cases even after the COVID-19 pandemic is over.

The panel chaired by senior BJP leader Bhupender Yadav submitted its report to Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu.

Asserting that a court is more of a service than a place, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice in its report said it is time that the court room, regarded as the "last bastion of antiquated working practices", opens its doors to the latest technology.

Underlining that digital justice is cheaper and faster besides addressing locational and economic handicaps, the panel strongly pitched for continuation of virtual courts even after the COVID-19 pandemic gets over.

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The Virtual Court proceedings be continued beyond the pandemic duration for identified categories of cases with the consent of all parties, the panel recommended.

It has also suggested that virtual proceedings can be extended permanently to various Appellate Tribunals like TDSAT, IPAB, NCLAT etc located across the country which do not require personal appearances of the parties/advocates.

Virtual courts expedite processes and procedures and are an improvement over traditional courts as they are more affordable, citizen friendly and offer greater access to justice, the panel said in the report.

This is the first report to be presented by any Parliamentary Panel on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

After examining various provisions, mentions and glossaries with regard to the definition of court, the Committee opined that the court is more a service than a place, thereby supporting the virtual court proceedings being resorted to since the COVID-19 pandemic-induced lockdown in March, 2020.

The Committee held a series of meetings with Secretaries of Department of Justice and Legal Affairs, Secretary General of the Supreme Court and representatives of Bar Council of India and others on the issues related to the functioning of virtual courts.

Taking note of the reservations expressed by Bar associations about virtual court proceedings, the panel concluded that virtual courts may have shortcomings but they constitute advancement over the existing system and are worth embracing.

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