Physical Court Hearings Can’t Be Done Away With, But Virtual Courts Must Be Strengthened : Justice M B Lokur

first_imgTop StoriesPhysical Court Hearings Can’t Be Done Away With, But Virtual Courts Must Be Strengthened : Justice M B Lokur Radhika Roy13 May 2020 7:39 AMShare This – xJustice Madan B Lokur, former judge of the Supreme Court, spoke about the need to strengthen the virtual court system in a Webinar held on judicial reforms on Wednesday.”Physical court hearings cannot be done away with, but virtual courts must be strengthened”, he said.He was speaking in an interactive session organized by BeyondLaw CLC and UILS, Punjab University, Chandigarh. The…Your free access to Live Law has expiredTo read the article, get a premium account.Your Subscription Supports Independent JournalismSubscription starts from ₹ 599+GST (For 6 Months)View PlansPremium account gives you:Unlimited access to Live Law Archives, Weekly/Monthly Digest, Exclusive Notifications, Comments.Reading experience of Ad Free Version, Petition Copies, Judgement/Order Copies.Subscribe NowAlready a subscriber?LoginJustice Madan B Lokur, former judge of the Supreme Court, spoke about the need to strengthen the virtual court system in a Webinar held on judicial reforms on Wednesday.”Physical court hearings cannot be done away with, but virtual courts must be strengthened”, he said.He was speaking in an interactive session organized by BeyondLaw CLC and UILS, Punjab University, Chandigarh.  The session began with Justice Lokur being astounded by the number of people who had joined the session and he specially requested the audience to address their questions to the organisers, so that they could be accordingly answered. He commented on the need for technology as social and physical distancing were here to stay. In order to move ahead, Justice Lokur stated the need for all of us to marshal our resources. “If we plan on our future, we have to figure out the existing resources that we have. Our Lok Adalats need to function properly. I have it on good authority that they have not been working too well. Also, proper legal aid needs to be given”. Justice Lokur also suggested the idea of strengthening our resource of arbitration: “Another resource that we have is arbitration. Singapore and London have an Arbitration Centre. Why can’t we strengthen our arbitration laws and institutionalize the same? We also have mediation and we should capitalize on that”. On the issue of tribunals, Justice Lokur began with commending tribunals for their functioning. He stated that they were doing a “fantastic job”. “We need to strengthen our tribunals. People have the perception that our tribunals are not doing much, but I feel like they are doing a fantastic job. This needs to be improved”. On the aspect of technology, Justice Lokur acknowledged the lack of feasibility of letting the current measures go on forever. He stated that they were merely stop-gap measures, but there was no other choice, but to keep them up. While physical court hearings could not be done away with, virtual courts could definitely be strengthened. He further emphasized the positives of paperless courts, with Delhi High Court pioneering the project. “Why not have proper written submissions instead of long hearings. Written submissions can be given. My experience with the Fiji Court is that wonderful and concise written submissions are given, which invariably reduces the time for oral arguments.” Coming to the everlasting effects of COVID-19 on court procedures, Justice Lokur commented: “Whether we like it or not, COVID-19 will be with us for a long, long time. It will take another year for the vaccine to be developed. There will also be a limit to how much judges can work. The filings of cases will definitely increase, but the listing of cases post lockdown will be lower. This will increase pendency. This is an area that must be tackled.” He also opined that judges should not be wasting time on administrative committees.”Judges should not waste their time in committees such as Library Committees etc. Why can’t it be taken care of by the Court staff with the judges looking into the judicial aspects ?”, he said. Justice Lokur concluded his address with an emphasis on process re-engineering and the need for our courts to update their processes, with an example being given of Punjab and Haryana High Court following the rules of Lahore Court. When it came to questions, Justice Lokur brought up the employment of audio recording of proceedings. He referred to his court sessions before the Fiji Court where the court proceedings are recorded. He stated that this was something that needed to be thought about as then even lawyers would be unable to flip their submissions. With regard to live streaming, Justice Lokur appreciated the idea, but added that there were certain caveats to the same. For instance, whether there would be a time lag and who all would be accessible to the proceedings. The implementation might be a challenge for the Supreme Court, but it would be a welcome change. While emphasizing the importance of learning how to draft pleadings, Justice Lokur suggested the implementation of an evaluation system for lawyers after five years of practice, which could be conducted by the Bar Council of India, keeping in mind the ever-changing nature of laws.Justice Dr S Muralidhar, judge of Punjab and Haryana High Court, was a co-speaker at the event (A separate report about his lecture may be read here). Next Storylast_img

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