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CJI PITCHES FOR VIRTUAL COURT TECHNOLOGY

Disappointed by the attitude of some Chief Justices of High Courts who are disbanding technological infrastructure created with public money, Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud says virtual court technology is here to stay, and Chief Justices of High Courts are duty bound to "fall in line and come on board".

Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud has been a strong supporter of technology in order to relieve pressure  on  courts  across  the country and provide people with timely justice. And his chairmanship of the Supreme Court’s e-committee supplements his initiatives. But, post-pandemic, the slow peddling of virtual courts appears to have irritated him greatly. Recently, in response to some demands from lawyers alleging that virtual courts are not being held in some High Courts across the country, he warned the HC Chief Justices strongly.

The Chief Justice said he was “really disturbed” by the attitude of certain High Court Chief Justices who are disbanding technological infrastructure created with public money. He said they cannot just switch off the cameras and microphones and insist on the physical presence of lawyers and litigants. The CJI said  “Some  High  Court  judges are simply dismantling the virtual hearing infrastructure that we have funded… You may or may not be interested in technology as Chief Justice of a High Court; you may know nothing about it; but you are obligated to spend public funds made available by the Government of India to further the mission of access to justice”.

Virtual court technology refers to the use of digital tools such as video conferencing, electronic filing of documents, and online dispute resolution systems to conduct court proceedings remotely without the need for physical presence in a courtroom.

He mentioned how some judges believed that if they could physically appear in court, lawyers could as well. But the conditions under which judges come to work are very different from those under which the Bar must work. He said the funds are not for us personally; we are going to use them to reach out to people and close the Internet divide at the grassroots level. The Chief Justices need to take this mission forward. This is not how you deal with public money.

Chief Justice Chandrachud mentioned how the Union Budget made 7,000 crores available for the e-courts project after a Parliamentary Committee visited the Supreme Court for the first time and issued a strong report in favour of more funds for the judiciary.

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