Virtual courts cannot replace open court hearing: Justice Chandrachud | India News

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May 25, 2020

NEW DELHI: Supreme Court Judge and e-committee chairman Justice D Y Chandrachud on Sunday said virtual courts cannot replace open court hearings as it constitutes the spine of the judicial system but emphasised that pandemic warranted reliance on technology would continue to play a major role in speeding up justice dispensation.
In a webinar with students of NALSAR University, Hyderabad, Justice Chandrachud said, “I don’t think virtual courts are going to replace open court hearing. I don’t think any Judge or expert in technology is going to tell that. I want to disabuse the minds of people who think that virtual courts are some sort of panacea or formula which is a substitute for open court hearing.”
He said the judiciary had no choice but to resort to virtual courts given the seriousness of the Covid-19 pandemic. “We had to protect lives of lawyers, litigants, all stake holders, media personnel, students and clerks. So, we were compelled to have videoconference hearings.”
“What I perceive for future is a healthy mixture of hearings in open courts and virtual courts. Virtual courts must be encouraged in areas they are suited to. And we must necessarily have open court hearings which really constitute the spine of our system,” he said and gave the example of how virtual e-courts in Delhi dealing with traffic challans have been a real success story.
He said earlier 20 judicial officers were engaged to decide traffic challan cases. The virtual e-courts for traffic challis started in Delhi in July last year with just one judicial officer. This alone has settled 7,32,061 traffic challan cases leading to collection of Rs 89.5 crore as fines for traffic rule violations. He said similar e-courts for traffic challans were started in Faridabad and Pune. “Now, the Madras High Court will shortly open e-courts for traffic challans in Chennai,” he said.
He said though open court system is very important for judiciary, “we must not remain under misconception that we can continue to perform work as we were doing a 100 years ago. Whether we like it or not technology has come into every aspect of our existence… and Technology will play a far greater role in easing up the processes involved in the judicial system to make justice delivery much more speedy. That is because technology makes processes transparent, efficient , accountable and intelligible.”
Justice Chandrachud incidentally addressed the webinar through Zoom Video application, one whose security aspects are under SC scanner. SC on Friday had sought the Centre’s response to a PIL filed by Harsh Chugh who expressed serious apprehension about security of data generated through lockdown stimulated increased usage of the Zoom application.

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