Updated: June 5, 2021 8:09:58 am
With courts switching to the virtual mode in the wake of Covid-19, the digital divide is impacting functioning of the judiciary, too, and concrete steps are needed to address this, it was felt at a meeting held between Chief Justice of India N V Ramana and high court Chief Justices.
Officials said it is gathered from the confabulations that in the wake of the second wave of the pandemic, all HCs have moved from hybrid mode — part-physical, part-virtual — to complete video-conferencing mode, and most courts have rescheduled their summer vacations to minimise the suffering.
The general view that emerged was that the digital divide is impacting functioning of the judiciary, and better connectivity and network in districts, particularly in rural and tribal areas, would go a long way in enhancing efficiency of the subordinate judiciary. They pointed out that one of the HCs has introduced a mobile video conferencing van in a bid to address the issue, at least partly.
The CJs also said that vaccination drives, by and large, were satisfactory in HCs, and to a certain extent in district courts, but the majority of lower courts are still waiting for their turn.
The CJI was also told that a considerable degree of vaccine hesitancy is noticed across both rural and urban areas, and that mobile vaccination centres are being contemplated by one of the HCs to ensure that vaccines reach sub-division and tehsil level courts.
The CJI assured the CJs that the Supreme Court Registry will taken up their concerns on connectivity, vaccine supply and request to declare the functionaries of courts as frontline workers for purposes of priority vaccination, with the Centre.
The CJI noted that poor infrastructure is proving to be a major stumbling block in delivery of justice, and shared his vision for creation of National Judicial Infrastructure Corporation.
Under its aegis, it is proposed to build comprehensive, self-contained, all-inclusive and modern court complexes across the courtesy. The CJI added that with the lessons drawn from the pandemic, necessary permanent infrastructure for video conferencing will also need to be integrated into proposed modern court buildings.
CJI Ramana also re-emphasised the need to expedite the process of filling-up of HC vacancies, and told the CJs that recommendations of HC Collegium must also reflect the social diversity.
The virtual interaction with the HC CJs, the first since Justice Ramana assumed office as CJI, took place in batches in over four different sessions on June 1 and 2.
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