Karnataka HC second in using ‘eCourts’ in lockdown

4 min read
July 1, 2022

BENGALURU:  The Madras High Court stands first in the country among 28 high courts in hearing cases through video conferencing (VC) since the beginning of lockdown period which was imposed in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic outbreak.

According to data published by the Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of India, in showcasing ‘eCourt achievement’, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana, and Delhi High Courts occupy the next four places, respectively. These courts have dealt with 14.17 lakh, 6.92 lakh, 6.37 lakh, 5.20 lakh and 3.16 lakh cases, respectively.

Similarly, under the jurisdiction of 28 high courts, Delhi stands first among 28 district courts in the country in dealing with cases through video conferencing. The immediate next four courts are Allahabad, Patna, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.

The number of cases heard by the district courts in the jurisdictions of these high courts are 28.79 lakh, 27.39 lakh, 17.51 lakh, 6.80 lakh and 6.73 lakh, respectively. Since Covid lockdown started, the district courts heard 1.23 crore cases while the high courts heard 61.02 lakh cases (in all 1.84 crore) till February 28, 2022 through VC. The Supreme Court heard 2.18 lakh cases till March 14, 2022 since the beginning of the lockdown period.

“VC emerged as the mainstay of the courts during the Covid lockdown period as physical hearings and normal court proceedings in the congregational mode were not possible”, the Ministry of Law and Justice said in a report.  It is further said that to bring about uniformity and standardisation in using VC, an overarching order was passed by the Supreme Court on April 6, 2020 which gave legal sanctity and validity to the court hearings done through VC.

Further, VC rules were framed by a five-judge committee which were circulated among all high courts for adoption after local contextualisation. As many as 24 high courts have implemented VC rules.

Additionally, under the jurisdictions of 28 high courts, 25 district courts have adopted the VC rules as on February 28, 2022. VC facilities have been enabled at 3,240 court complexes and corresponding 1,272 jails. The Telangana High Court has started mobile e-courts van equipped with Wi-Fi and computers for video conferencing for speedy disposal of cases in remote areas of the state which do not have easy access to courts, the Ministry of Law and Justice said.

This apart, a novel concept of virtual courts has been introduced under the eCourts project to deal with petty traffic offence cases. As on March 3, 2022, there are 17 such courts in 13 states/UTs namely Delhi (2), Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala (2), Maharashtra (2), Assam, Chhattisgarh, Jammu and Kashmir (2), and Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Meghalaya and Himachal Pradesh.

Over 1.32 crore cases have been handled by 17 virtual courts and in more than 22 lakhs cases online fine of more than Rs 229 crore has been imposed till March 3, 2022.