In an attempt to do away with unnecessary court visits, the Supreme Court (SC) of India has developed an e-filing software that is said to be in advanced stages of trial.
Head of the SC’s E-Committee Justice DY Chandrachud, on April 13, announced that Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) and the Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association (SCAORA) may get to test the application soon.
Amidst the Covid-19 scare, the apex court has also suspended its regular functioning and taken things digital as much as possible. For instance, the Supreme Court has allowed the lawyers to argue their cases through video conferences, and watch proceedings on smart TVs in the press rooms of the court complex.
With this move, the SC aimed to discourage all non-essential travel to the court. The court also barred all casual visitors from entering the apex court premise for tours or to visit the museum.
Besides this, the apex court has also barred anybody with a travel history to the affected country, or any symptoms of Covid-19 from entering the court premises. Besides this, the SC also introduced a self-declaration of recent travels and health status for anyone entering the court complex.
As far as the cases are concerned, both the Supreme Court and the High Court are hearing only extremely urgent cases that too through video conferencing. However, Justice Chandrachud also added that the live webcast of proceedings will not be open to all for the time being.
For now, the Supreme Court plans to restrict the webcast’s accessibility through password-protected web links generated by the Supreme Court’s office. Several lawyers from the court have been facing technical issues with the same. Therefore, the Supreme Court has also incorporated the Vidyo app to carry on such proceedings. Meanwhile, it has also resorted to WhatsApp video calls in some cases.
Even the Indian government, both state and centre, have resorted to video conferences. Now, the IT ministry is inviting 10 Indian startups to develop a video conferencing platform. The startups will get INR 5 Lakh to develop a prototype and if approved, the shortlisted startup will be granted INR 20 Lakh to develop the final product.
The solutions will then be deployed in the state and central government departments for a period of four years. For the first year, the company will get INR 1 Cr and INR 10 Lakh per year for the next 3 years towards operations and maintenance of the solution for the government.