This article has been written by Mansi Singh, a 1st year student of Amity Law School Raipur, Chhattisgarh
In today’s digital world everything is advancing and every this can be seen in every field be it education, job even shopping and sales of product. With this digitization the judicial system is also advancing and growing and is becoming more digitalised. As more and more court are going digital, but that does not mean this improve the performance of judicial system.
As electronic court reporting Is one key aspect of this trend, I would lie to take an opportunity to look at the pros and cons of digitization of Indian judicial system.
In this period of lockdown caused by COVID19 pandemic, courts in India are demonstrating and experimenting videoconferencing to take up emergency matters. Although measures have been taken to maintain status quo such as the limitation period and interim order, a variety of legal issues remain need of adjudication. An unpredictable and uncertain lockdown has crippled the judicial system and has made it incapable to render its duty of ensuring its constitutional mandate i.e. providing access to justice all time.
Although there are many advantages of having digitalized judicial system, as every thing as its pros and cons, digital courts or virtual courts in India. It might seem like the most suitable and the possible way to develop and upgrade the legal community of India, and people would thing its easy to mange courts more easily and comfortably. However, that is not the case.
- Cons of having Digital Judicial System
- There would arise numerous legal problems related to the applicability and authenticity of the identity of witness, evidence produced before the court etc.
- The confidentiality of court proceeding shall be at risk because, the whole setup presuppose the use of technology and varied number of software and tools that possess some or the other kind of threats related to security and privacy of data.
- Moreover, another practical and the most important problem which is that in India, there are 24 High courts. More than 600 District courts and other subordinate judicial institutions. The cost of setting up and installation would require a huge amount of investment. To convert the judicial system into a remote- working successful “Virtual” world, technological up-gradation and investment in court are quintessential.
- And Apart form this, one important aspect which gets unnoticed is that, speedier justice would result in deterioration of the quality of justice. For this we need to make sure that speedy delivery of justice doesn’t cost us the efficiency and effectiveness of justice. Because if we want to have more effective judicial system, it is necessary to make technology accessible to everyone.
The pros and all the effective talks about digitizing the judicial system has also uncovered the fault in this system. This system is effective but in short term, can also work in long run but for the same huge amount of investment and knowledge is required and in developing country like India it would be quite difficult to make people understand about this digitization.
Three main challenges that arise are as follow: –
- Practical implementation of technology.
- Ensuring technology does not become barrier to justice.
- Maintaining public trust and confidence.
- PRACTICAL OBSTACLES TO IMPLEMENTATION
There is no one-size-fit approach and the future of the courts.
The type of court is relevant– judging from the view of technology in different courts, it may depend on the court how the courts are able to mange and make a good use of technology. The implementation would depend on the resources available to the courts. More the resources more faster, flexible the court and the manner for decision making. Allocation of budget must be just and fair.
The type of matter is relevant- type of matter is also another factor, is the matter related to civil, criminal, simple or complex. E-trials can be worthwhile in very document-heavy matters, while they would be definitely not be cost-effective in simple matter.
For example:– in family law matters where safety is concern, technology can facilitate the safe, remote appearance of parties. Yet, in commercial matters where the credibility of witness must be ascertained with reference to their responses, appearance through video links mat prove inadequate.
Similarly, in matters related to self-presented litigant who wish to submit a hard copy to the judge. Appears through video link is inadequate. Though technology would make accessing easy, on must balance enthusiasm for new technology while keeping in mind that the courts face cases which are varying in nature.
THE WILLINGNESS OF THOSE INVOLVED IS RELEVANT– this means that people who work in court such as judge, barristers, lawyers and even their clients are willing to embrace and adopt the use of technology in the courts.
THE AVAILABLE DATA IS RELEVANT– when the court will enter into the domain of technology, in order to provide sufficient and relevant information, it needs the input of a sufficient large database of information and judgments.
THE CONTRACTS ARE RELEVANT– As Courts would make a contract for having technological services, there should be awareness of the need for contact which do not bind the court into arrangement which are inflexible.
- ACCESS (NOT BARRIER) TO JUSTICE
A digitalized judicial system, would become a barrier to justice as every one is not able to access internet properly especially those who are unaware or who are not educated, people who are disabled. So, it is important that traditional methods of access to the courts are maintained until the society is at a stage where full digitization is more realistic.
- PUBLIC TRUST AND CONFIDENCE-
All this actions and discussion about the technology and the future virtual courts would work properly only when public would have trust and confidence on the courts and the legal institutions. Greater accessibility of legal material assists with ensuring a level of transparency and accountability.
So, it is important to under stand that traditional methods of access to the courts should be maintained until the society is at a stage where full digitization is more realistic. And at this point there are many challenges, such as peoples trust over and confidence that their documents are safe, the court and its work is transparent and is accountable and authentic.
Another problem is accessibility, if people are not able to access only the what is the use of the judicial body, this technical up gradation would hamper the primary function of providing justice.
Also Read: The Virtual Supreme Court here