Virtual Courts: An Alternative to Pendency of Cases
Written by: Nitish Kumar Lenka & Subhalakshmi Jena, Students, University Law College, Bhubaneswar
A time when a mere virus has created havoc not only in lives of people globally but also affecting the administration and social system, we are now compelled to adapt alternate measures for our each and every activity. Nobody can predict the carrier of virus hence congregation of people needs to be avoided to every extend possible. Since the spread of Covid-19 has affected our judiciary system as well, effective measures have been taken to prevent manual activities in the court where chances of virus lurking with the carrier and people near him if is at high stake. Keeping the administration of justice and safety in mind, it is the need of the hour that a step should be taken so as not to hamper the flow of justice to the people of the land. Constitution of India protects the right of every citizen. It protects citizens from getting a partial or incomplete judgement. It gives its decision on the basis of rules and laws enshrined in the various Indian Acts, this is where a transparent legal system comes into view. The Judiciary of our country is an independent body not being controlled by the government or any political party thereby making it independent of both legislative and executive.
The present scenario has led to filing of unsolved cases that has become major problem i.e the pendency of cases. Pendency refers to the backlog of cases. This arises when large clog of cases of different sets with different nature is being unnoticed. This pendency leads to accumulation of cases causing the delay in justice. Statistic revealed that there are around 59,867 cases pending in the Supreme Court, 44.75 lakh cases in various high courts and 3.14 crore cases at the district and subordinate court . One of the oldest cases still pending in Doshipura Court since 1878 is a dispute between Shia and Sunni Muslim over a two acres of land. India’s oldest civil case pending since 1956 in the Rajasthan high court and for criminal cases, the Allahabad and the Jammu and Kashmir high courts have the oldest backlog since 1976. These old cases are a result of various loopholes in the system. Amidst where Covid-19 has become another factor in disrupting administration justice.
Some of the loopholes in our Judiciary System for Pendency of cases are :-
1. Administrative Problem
This factor has been the major problem which is generally not given importance. According to a report published by Supreme Court it shows that the sub-ordinate Judiciary is not being provided with appropriate number of court rooms, support staffs and residential accommodation for Judges. To curb this problem there is urgent need of around 5000 court rooms and around 20000 judicial officers to meet the need. The condition of the subordinate judiciary is deteriorating day by day with constant pressure of human resources to handle the increasing cases. It is seen that there is immediate filling of 40000 vacancy in the staff position, which has always been given less attention. In case Kadra Pahadiya and Ors. Etc v. State of Biahr Etc contented that having regard to the pendency of a large number of cases in criminal courts all over the country, it is essential that the infrastructure contemplated by these provisions shall be put to use so that to begin with sufficient number of special judicial magistrate and special metropolitan magistrate could be appointed. Mr. Ravi Shankar Prasad, the law minister of India in an interview has said that one of the major reasons behind the high pendency is inordinate delay in filling up the vacancies of the judicial offices.
2. Infrastructural Problem
Infrastructure is the basic requirement for the smooth functioning of any system. Using of old technology by the administrator and slow change leads to the hinderance in working process of court. As we have seen the condition of various court, it is due to the low budget for the judiciary infrastructure which resulted in depleted building as a result it immensely affect the delivery of judgement at proper time. In Imtiyaz Ahmad v. State of U.P. and ors Supreme Court directed the Law Commission of India to set up additional subordinate courts for elimination of delays and speedy disposal of cases and also direct advocates to reduce their cost.
3. Time Consumption
Another factor which affects the pendency of the case is the consumption of time by the court. Neither process of investigation, hearing and delivery of judgement is effectively and efficiently followed. In a case benched by Dalveer Bhandari and Dipak Misra said, “our country are usually short of time because of huge pendency of cases and at times the court arrives at an erroneous conclusion because of false pleas, claims defence and irrelevant facts.” In January 2019, Supreme Court asked the people not to file false and frivolous cases in order to save the court time being wasted. There need a fixed time limit for the court to come at conclusion.
4. Judicial Officer
As the rule of inversely proportional implies the decrease of one value at the same rate with increase in the other, the number of pending would decrease with an increase in judicial officers. That means the work get easier with more number of people working on it. It becomes easier to lessen the burden of cases within a short span of time. Indian Judiciary Officer are being overwhelmed by large number of cases and lack of appointment of officer has leads the system to an alarming situation.
5. Litigation Issue and Misuse of Law
With the increasing literacy rate of nation, awareness for people’s right is developing. There is an absolute obligation of legal system to protect these rights. The delay in court hearing through appeal has resulted in advantage to accused and disadvantage to victim. The people in search of justice approached towards court but due to delay in justice process they end up losing hope on legal system.
No judgement shall be delivered by apex court other than in open court Article 145(4) of our constitution. Further Section 327 of CRPC and Section 153-V of CPC mandate open court hearing on all criminal and civil cases. Open court is a court where public has a right to be admitted. The public must be able to observe the justice being done in the court. During this crucial period, when health needs to go hand in hand with administration of justice technological innovation and adoption of video conferencing technology can be utilised to holistically achieve the requirement of present of judicial system.
In the era of technology, Indian Judiciary System still depends on the manual court method to resolve the dispute. Use of modernised technology tool is an essential element to make justice more transferable, accessible and convenient.
In State of Maharashtra v. Praful B. Desai, it was that held video conference can be a mode for recording the evidence in criminal cases in section 273 of Crpc and in Swapnil Tripathi v. Supreme Court of India, apex court encourages the live streaming of court proceedings. The advantage of virtual court system are opening e-filling platform for advocate and litigants to file case in court on 24*7 basis, paperless document system that means all the court papers are virtually recorded and also digitalisation of court fee payment system. This virtual method encourages the e-planning i.e developing the core method of timely information date of hearing of case, any notice or order, details matter of cases and related issues to petitioner, respondent, respective advocates and judges. Development and introduction of new technology helps in more data collection and effective classification of cases on the basis of their urgency and priority of case. To facilitate these is a need of training of court staffs, advocate and judges regarding the e-court platform.
The Pandemic crisis has pushed various Courts towards fast track administrative reforms in the institution, a move that could speed up disposal of cases, digitisation of records and a switch to paperless courts. It is observed that acceptance of technology and putting it into use generally six time, and Indian Court are example of not fully benefitting themselves from technology. Keeping the pandemic in view, the use of technology in workspace cannot be ignored and misjudged. Indian Judiciary is one of the best in delivering the judgement in the world but it faces the problem of delay in justice. People start losing their hope and faith due to time taken by it in delivering the judgement. It is high time that Indian Judiciary needs to switch over the e-platform to reduce the backlog of cases and speedy & appropriate justice delivery.
References  Writ Petition (crl.) 5943 of 1980  AIR SC 2012 642  A. Shanmugam v. Ariya K.R.K.M.N.P. Sangam , CIVIL APPEAL NOS. 4012-4013 OF 2012  2003 4 SCC 601  2018 10 SCC 628
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