The COVID-19 pandemic has proven to be the true litmus test for evaluating the Indian judiciary’s technological capabilities. While the e-Courts mission mode project has certainly been successful in provisioning the basic technological hardware, its adoption has been slow and erratic. As the pandemic has brought the country’s courts to a practical standstill, it is vital to re-evaluate our work in this domain so far, and chart out a roadmap for building on the successes of the eCourts project. In this background, the Justice, Access, and Lowering Delays in India (JALDI) mission at the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy recently came out with a strategy paper for establishing virtual courts in India. This paper examines multiple themes: (i) the work done under the eCourts project;
(ii) the necessary implementation framework for institutionalising judicial innovation;
(iii) the governing principles for such a process, and
(iv) setting out immediate and long-term recommendations as our way-forward strategy for establishing efficient, robust, and inclusive virtual courts in India.
For this paper, the JALDI team had also conducted an online consultation with legal and non-legal experts. The panelists were Justice (Retd.) Madan Lokur, Justice (Retd.) Badar D. Ahmed, Justice (Retd.) K. Kannan, Justice Gautam Patel, Mr. Mukul Rohatgi, Ms. Madhavi Divan, Prof. Subhashis Banerjee, Dr. Sushant Sinha, Mr. Jamshed Mistry, Dr. Sudebi Thakurata, Dr. Karnika Seth, and Mr. Anand Rajan. This video captures some of the key issues that were discussed under three broad segments:
a. Response of the Indian judiciary to the COVID-19 pandemic;
b. Roadmap for establishing virtual courts;
c. Adoption framework for virtual courts.