Brain Booster for UPSC & State PCS Examination (Topic: Law Ministry Panel and Virtual Courts)

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Topic: Law Ministry Panel and Virtual Courts

Law Ministry Panel and Virtual Courts

Why in News?

  • The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice has recommended that virtual courts, set up in view of COVID-19, should continue to function even after the pandemic, saying “digital justice is cheaper and faster” and would address “locational and economic handicap”.
  • The panel, led by BJP MP Bhupender Yadav, is of the view that the court is “more a service than a place” and that advocates must “keep up with the changing times” as technology will “emerge as a game changer”.

Virtual Courts

  • The Supreme Court had resorted to virtual hearings on 23 March, a day before the lockdown was imposed by the government.
  • On 6 April, a bench led by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde issued orders under Article 142 to allow all courts to switch to the virtual mode, giving legal sanctity to digital courts.
  • MP Bhupender Yadav presented an interim report on the “Functioning of the Virtual Courts/Court proceedings through video conferencing” to Rajya Sabha Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu.
  • This is the first report to be presented by any parliamentary panel on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The parliamentary panel strongly pitched for virtual courts stating that digital justice is cheaper and faster besides addressing locational and economic handicaps; ensures safety of vulnerable witnesses providing testimony; expedites processes and procedures and are an improvement over traditional Courts as they are most affordable, citizen friendly and offers greater access to justice.


  • The digital transformation of the judiciary has important implications for clearing the significant backlog of cases the judiciary is burdened with.
  • Technology may, in fact, be a catalyst for simplifying processes and making manual process redundant.
  • It will make justice accessible and affordable to a large section of the population and help in overcoming physical and logistical barriers which prevent many litigants from seeking justice.
  • Committee pointed out that if the international arbitration is allowed to be conducted digitally, there will be “hardly any requirements for real time travel to distant locations” which will make proceedings less expensive.
  • The report said “transfer of certain categories of cases from regular Court establishments to Virtual Courts will reduce the pendency of cases which has been clogging the wheels of Justice for decades”.
  • It added that to begin with, the judiciary may identify categories of cases that can be tried by virtual courts. The report pointed out that the Department of Justice had suggested that traffic challan cases, petty offences where summons can be issued under Section 206 of CrPC., cases under section 138 of Negotiable Instruments Act and Motor Accident Claim Petition cases can be allotted to virtual courts.


  • The committee recommended the Ministry of Electronics and IT to employ globally tried and tested tools to make virtual hearings more life-like and engaging.
  • It also recommended computer curriculum in law courses.
  • On grievances made by lawyers about connectivity issues, the committee said the communications ministry should “step up efforts to ensure timely implementation of National Broadband mission…so that the services provided by indigenous communication satellites are fully harnessed and the goal of Universal broadband access is achieved”.
  • A representative of the Bar had earlier opposed virtual court hearings on the ground that almost 50 per cent lawyers, particularly in the district courts, do not have laptops or computer facilities.
  • There were also concerns that virtual courts will compromise privacy of data as well as confidentiality of discussions and court proceedings.
  • Currently, third-party software applications such as Webex, Cisco and Jitsi are being used in India for conducting hearings through video-conferencing. Third-party software is not only an unviable option but also poses a major security risk as such software programs and applications are prone to hacking and manipulation.