Virtual Legal proceedings during Corona Pandemic
I appeared in the first Online hearing in DK District, Karnataka, pertaining to bail for an attempt to murder charge. It took place before the PDJ & Sessions Judge, Mangalore.
This was a unique experience for me and evidently, for the Court as well. The hearing became possible after our office had filed an application online, following the notification passed by the Karnataka High Court regarding e-filing and arguments by video conferencing.
The immense advantages of e-filing and Video arguments or “V-arguments” is evident immediately. Reduced usage of fossil resources such as paper, fuel, reduced emissions due to non-travel, etc., are the “usual suspects”. We, however, found other specific benefits such as increased efficiency and improved quality of work (we had more time on our hands to prepare the case rather than spending it on printing, filing, and serving physical papers on all concerned). The over-adversarial posture that counsels naturally take in courtrooms was missing. The entire process was more relaxed as everyone participated from the comfort of their own personal space. Books and reference material were also easily available and sharable in e-format. The hearing was completed within a short timeframe.
The experience has led me to believe that e-filings and V-Arguments are here to stay and will bring that impetus that we in the Judicial System have been looking for. This possibly is the answer to the delay in processes that have plagued our justice delivery mechanism. As of now, the High Court has directed such hearing for extremely urgent cases. My opinion, however, is that e-filings and V-Arguments must be immediately allowed for all fresh matters. Technology today has ensured that the Judicial system can continue to flatten the pendency curve, while the country tries to flattenCorona’s.
Author: Raghavendra Rao, Veritas Legis