IASbhai Daily Editorial Hunt | 11th May 2020
Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.– Winston Churchill
EDITORIAL HUNT 77:“The epidemic and ensuring Safety Inside the Courts“
SOURCES: THE HINDU EDITORIAL/EDITORIALS FOR UPSC CSE MAINS 2020
K. Subramanian is Senior Advocate and former Advocate General of Tamil Nadu. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The epidemic and ensuring safety in courts
Suitable measures must be put in place for conducting proceedings after the lockdown is lifted
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 2:Judiciary
Post Pandemic the Courts in India have to devise a working plan with the technological interventions. Discuss -(GS 2)
- This article will let you understand the present judicial infrastructure.
- Post-Pandemic important preparations.
- How to consolidate a working plan for all.
- On April 6, invoking its powers under Article 142 of the Constitution, the Supreme Court issued certain directions for the functioning of courts through video conferencing during the lockdown.
- The Court directed the State officials of the National Informatics Centre (NIC) to liaison with the respective High Courts and formulate a plan for the virtual functioning of courts.
- It was made clear that the guidelines for this would be formulated by the NIC and sent to the respective courts and lawyers.
- But the NIC has not yet notified the guidelines.
EXAMPLE FROM UK:
- INFRASTRUCTURE : In the United Kingdom, a considerable amount of work has gone into putting in place the infrastructure necessary to facilitate remote court hearings.
- TECHNICAL KNOWLEDGE : For instance, a user must have a personal computer running Windows, OS X or Linux; a web browser such as Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome; the Adobe Reader 11 software; and a scanner.
- Only documents in PDF format are accepted for e-filing.
- Thus, e-filings involve a certain amount of technical knowledge and capability.
- In India, most advocates and litigants are unaware of and unwilling to use these services.
BACKGROUND OF E- FILING SYSTEM:
- The e-filing system was introduced in the Delhi High Court in 2009.
- Compared to the other High Courts in the country, the Delhi High Court is far ahead in terms of technology.
- About 10 courts in the Delhi High Court function as e-courts.
- There is also sufficient technical manpower in the Delhi High Court (70) and district courts (30).
- In the Delhi High Court, e-filing is mandatory for company, taxation and arbitration jurisdictions.
- The facility for e-filing of cases pertaining to the Delhi High Court was also made available from April 7, 2020, at all the court complexes of the Delhi district courts.
OTHER COURTS :
- One of the issues refers to ensuring availability of proportionate court infrastructure till normalcy is completely restored.
- In the Bombay High Court, e-courts started functioning from 2013.
- Now even writs, suits and testamentary matters are heard by e-courts.
- In the Madras High Court, the facility for e-filing of cases, which was initially only for bail applications, was launched on April 22, 2020.
- Filing of urgent cases through e-mail is also permitted now.
- While it is true that there is less pressure on the courts now, this will change once the lockdown is lifted.
AVAILABILITY OF COURTS :
- The method of hearing post lockdown will depend on the facilities available at the court concerned.
- While such facilities are largely available in the Supreme Court and the Delhi High Court, they are not available in the various other High Courts and subordinate courts.
- The judiciary must be allotted sufficient funds for self-administration and timely delivery of justice.
- As much of the Supreme Court and many High Courts will remain closed for the summer, the High Courts can consider constituting committees, as the Delhi High Court did, to create graded plans for the courts functioning after the lockdown.
- They can formulate plans based on the availability of infrastructure to conduct virtual hearings or actual hearings, or by running courts in shifts.
In case any of the courts are inclined to conduct open court hearings,they may have to implement some guidelines:
- Only those lawyers/litigants whose cases are listed for the day’s hearing should be allowed to enter court halls.
- The lawyers must enter in batches according to the serial number in the list.
- Thermal image cameras must be installed at the entrance of every court building, to identify risk persons.
- Every person entering the court premises must install the Aarogya Setu app on their phones.
- Five, at the entrance of every court complex, an automatic hand wash faucet should be installed.
- There should be regulations on the manner of functioning and running of public utility services, canteens, etc., within the court premises with all necessary precautions.
- Masks, gloves and sanitisers should be made available.
As junior lawyers have been seriously impacted by the lockdown, they should receive financial assistance (even in the form of a loan from a nationalised bank) from the Central government.