Virtual Law and Justice – Not a very distant reality?
If one were to speculate say during the 2000s that classes and office work would be taken through electronic devices and the use of its respective physical infrastructure is unnecessary, then people would take it with a pinch of salt. But, as is the time in this current scenario where the only option of having something linked to the activities of normalcy is to conduct classes or work through the help of some devices and staying at home while doing so.
Technology has come a long way, with each new stride of its bringing higher attention towards it. Innovations in this field is now slowly engulfing into other spheres of activities performed by people.
Its influence spreading to many mediums and forums of human activities. So, when there is a global situation that can help thrust its expertise over a certain area, that activity will be digitized, and its working done virtually.
Now, one such sphere to which technology’s arms are spreading towards is the courts and its proceedings.
The current scenario
With the unfortunate situation that the country is facing with regards to the Corona Virus Pandemic, it has brought the mundane activities of people to an abrupt standstill. Many public works have also been hit by the virus outbreak. The courts and legal environment has also been hit badly. The importance of the working of courts is heavy and its schedule does not have breaks. Work in bringing justice does not stop and this is what keeps it in a cycle that always moves on. Cases and trials keep coming up and the hearings and decisions for them have to be taken up on time so as to prevent a blockage in the deliverance of justice in the society.
Now, with the outbreak of the virus and its effect being a stop to outside movement, courts have been closed and the cases abruptly stopped. What this simply is resulting in is the piling up of many cases and trials where justice is badly required.
The virtual solution
The pandemic has brought this problem to light not only domestically but in many international nations as well. But, the major country to react and counter this situation of courts is the United Kingdom.
UK government is bringing emergency legislation, THE CORONA VIRUS BILL 2020, to expand the use of the video and audio hearings of the court and to make the virtual courts the public so that public can participate in the proceedings through audio and video conferences to grant fair justice.
The US received each new innovation in the organization of equity. US court of claims for the military heard a case in the courts 21 ventures in United States v Salazar and held that there is a genuine chance of preliminaries in which no physical likeness is available. The province of Michigan has set up a virtual court called digital court in their nation in 2002. This digital court separated from all normal court procedures particularly prepares the circuit and area decided for appointing to serve three years in the court.
Through these international developments we can clearly see that virtual court systems aren’t far fetched and are rather the most plausible option in order to keep the justice system running.
The effects of going digital
The virtual court system does have its plus points, The virtual courtroom enables the courts to dispose of the cases in a speedy manner compared with the physical courtroom. The virtual courtroom enables the court to conduct the trial involving the various parties at a time. The number of parties who can be heard can be increased by online mode. This facilitates the courts to settle the disputes in a speedy manner.
Another advantage that can help in the courts being efficient is the fact that virtual courts can be accessed anytime and anywhere. There can be no time barrier for the cases to be done by and this helps in having multiple cases decided by the judges in a day.
One of the most major advantage will obviously be the cutting of costs in firstly getting the accused from the prison where they are held to the courtroom. It also helps in reducing the costs in holding cases inside the building i.e. the court.
Lastly, The Virtual Courtrooms replaces the paper based proceeding with the electronic structure records to the most extreme degree. This will positively affect the earth as the paper-based prosecution isn’t eco-accommodating. The court records can be submitted in electronic structure any place it is conceivable.
The potential cons of virtual courtrooms would be the firstly, the human aspect. In other words, many of the legal professionals and the judges would take time to familiarize with the new system and there will be confusions whilst holding the virtual cases.
Another con, would be that the unreliability of the connectivity. There will be some major connectivity issues faced by the courts while having their virtual proceedings.
Virtual courts are rising innovative turns of events, ought to beat the difficulties in the execution of court procedures with no specialized glitches and deficiencies.
Setting up virtual courts will require a refreshed variant of new innovation, which is a cost-serious
Secrecy and hacking: privacy and digital security are the significant worries on head of mechanical manifestations like virtual courts.
There is a lot of probability of manufacturing and adjusting the electronic proof.
The comportment of witnesses and bogus proof: in virtual courts, there will be bending while at the same time recording the proof through video gathering, especially during questioning it is difficult to distinguish the outward appearances, signals, and stances of the observer.
It also defeats section-159 of Indian Evidence Act, 1872 which permits the witness to refresh his memory with the permission of the court during cross-examination, whereas during the video conferencing there is a mere chance of providing scripted answers by the witness which is defeating the whole purpose of cross-examination.
The saying, ‘necessity is the mother of invention’, seems to fit the current scenario perfectly. As we’ve seen from the international examples that setting up a virtual courtroom is not complex but having it work smoothly is where the real challenge lies. The E-legal executive or the virtual court or some other online technique for leading the cases is need of great importance as the pendency of the cases are expanding and the weight on the legal executive is likewise expanding because of the pendency of the cases. The virtual courts and other online offices empower the court to work in an effective way and it expands the straightforwardness in the court procedures. This measure likewise causes the administration to diminish the cost associated with the prosecution and a great deal of time can be spared by the virtual court strategy. To regularize the virtual hearings statutory framework should be established. This step is very welcoming, and it is the need of the hour to introduce virtual courtrooms in India, which helps the country in the long run.
Author: Tarun S,
IFIM law School, 1st Year