The decision to use a virtual mode of court hearing falls solely under the jurisdiction of the judiciary, and the Central Government has no role to play in this. Using video-conferencing, the District Courts heard 1,23,19,917 cases and the High Courts heard 61,02,859 cases (totaling 1.84 crores) since the Covid lockdown began on February 28, 2022. (VC).
Since the start of the lockdown, the Supreme Court has held 2,18,891 hearings, making it the world leader in virtual hearings. The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India issued an overarching order on April 6, 2020, to bring uniformity and standardization to the conduct of virtual mode of court. The order gave legal sanctity and validity to court hearings conducted through VC. In addition, VC rules were drafted by a five-judge committee and distributed to all High Courts for adoption after localization.
Virtual court rules implemented in 24 High Court
Video Conferencing rules have been implemented in 24 High Courts. All court complexes, including taluk level courts, have received one video conference piece of equipment each, and additional funds have been sanctioned for additional VC equipment for 14,443 courtrooms. Funds have been made available to build 2506 VC Cabins. A total of 1500 VC Licenses have been purchased.
Between 3240 court complexes and 1272 jails, VC facilities are already available. The government has set aside Rs 7.60 crore for the purchase of 1732 Document Visualizers. The lack of computer, laptop, and digital hardware access among lawyers in rural areas, as well as the resulting digital divide, is a serious issue. To address the digital divide, 493 eSewa Kendras have been established in High Courts and District Courts across the country, providing lawyers with easy access to e-Court and internet services.
NIC has been closely monitoring the complaints in order to resolve technical issues that arise during VC hearings. NIC has created VC software that is currently being tested. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) is also working on developing indigenous VC software. Regular coordination meetings with BSNL are held to resolve connectivity issues. In addition, a portal for reporting connectivity and bandwidth-related issues has been created to allow for better monitoring and faster resolution of such complaints.
Shri Kiren Rijiju, Union Minister of Law and Justice, provided this information in a written reply to the Lok Sabha on April 1st.