The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a paradigm shift with technology stepping in every field, and the judiciary was no different — the typical physical courtrooms were replaced by virtual ones where proceedings were conducted through videoconference.
Now, Parliament’s Standing Committee on Law and Justice, in its 103rd report ‘Functioning of Court Proceedings through Videoconferencing’ has recommended that the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology may be approached to develop indigenous software applications to handle virtual court hearings.
It also wanted development of Artificial intelligence systems capable of supporting bulk documentation etc.
“The committee recommends to rope in private IT companies, if need be, to develop Artificial Intelligence systems capable of supporting bulk documentation, remote location of parties, and sophisticated use of graphics,” said the report submitted to Rajya Sabha Chairman and Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on Friday.
“The committee believes that legal technology start-ups engaged in innovative solutions can play a crucial role in harnessing the unlimited potential of technology to connect stakeholders in the justice delivery system and in finding solutions that are affordable and efficient, and therefore recommends to the government to promote them,” the report said.
Commenting on the panel recommendations, Dr Arvind Singhatiya, founder and CEO, LegalKart, said: “Innovative legal technologies will pave the way forward for citizens to access justice in a speedy, transparent and convenient way. Technology is now diminishing the geographical boundaries and creating unprecedented access to legal systems and to the key stakeholders in India.”
Singhatiya, whose free cloud-based mobile application LegalKart aims to assist legal professionals to synchronise cases across forums, further said: “Online filings, video-hearings, on-demand legal advice, and access to the lawyers etc is now changing the whole legal landscape.”
He pointed out that technology is making access to legal services highly affordable and on-demand, adding that an institutional effort from the Centre will empower legal tech start-ups like LegalKart to contribute to society in a much bigger way.
“We are currently focused on helping people with language problem, so that they can resolve their issues and talk in their regional languages. We have introduced Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Marathi, Kannada, and Bengali so that they can consult without any language barrier,” the LegalKart co-founder said.
The parliamentary committee report noted that the apex court has time and again emphasised the significance of live-streaming of court proceedings in promoting openness and transparency which, in turn, reinforce public faith in judicial system.
The litigant need not come to the court to watch the proceedings and thus will reduce crowding inside the court. The judiciary may also consider broadcasting virtual hearings of certain specified categories of cases to further the principle of open justice and open court, the report added.