Nascent Virtual Courts must Evolve to Maturity

Virtual Courts and E filings of the cases have, without doubt, come to stay even after the COVID-19. As history is known by the AD and the BC, similarly the Google has also become a watershed in many areas. Google has completely changed the method of education, the research and the journalism etc., One belongs to the age of ‘Before Google’ and the other is ‘After Google’. Today one has all information under the sun (even beyond sun) in one’s own Android phone, thanks to Google. Mental blocks always work against accepting anything new. Therefore, Virtual Courts will take some time to get more acceptability when advocates and judges get accustomed to this new technology in due course.
However, we find that some advocates are so non-serious that they try to take undue liberty of the new system of Virtual Courts. Recently it was reported that an Advocate appeared wearing vests before a Virtual Court for which he was rightly rebuked by the Rajasthan High Court. Only a few days back, shockingly, an advocate was appearing before the court in the lying posture on the bed. Hopefully, the advocates and their organisations and the judges will ensure that the basic rules of decency and dignity of the courts are maintained. The Supreme Court has already dispensed with the wearing of black coats and gowns. Now the advocates can appear only in white shirts and bands, which is a huge relief particularly in a tropical country like India. The gowns and coats are actually incompatible and unsuitable to our summer climate and are more susceptible to the infection of Coronavirus. But this liberty should not be stretched too far by the advocates. Proper dress and decorum are the sines qua non of the court culture. As the old saying goes ‘the dress and the address’ reflects the personality of a person. A good address may be out of the reach of ordinary advocates but the neat and clean dress is surely manageable.
Covid-19 has opened many avenues and vistas for young, talented and promising advocates, but it has also closed the doors for the ordinary and deprived advocates because their clientele has been coming mostly from the social interacting. There is no doubt that the cases related to non-performance of contracts, agreements, force majeure, unemployment, health and insurance will be increased in the days to come. State litigations will also go up in the post-COVID time. As I have already said in one of my previous posts that Virtual Courts are going to be time and money saver and pollution preventer. They will also help make the roads safer and accidents-free.
Nevertheless, Virtual Courts still have less acceptability by the large number of advocates coming from ordinary families. A seasoned and well-respected advocate friend Anjani Kumar Jha says, and rightly so, that the efficacy of the Virtual Courts is doubtful in present circumstances. He says that the time is not ripe for the replacement of physical courts. The main problems are that the majority of advocates cannot afford the basic infrastructures like laptops and the internet etc., Poor electricity supply, Wi-Fi connection and the disturbance-free conference room are the tall order for them. Large numbers of advocates past 40 years are not computer savvy. They have neither the will nor the resources to learn the new technology. The biggest problem is to arise at the trial stage p[areticularly at the time of recording of the evidence and cross-examination of witnesses. In fact, all ideas, howsoever good, are bound to fail if they cannot withstand on the rock of reality.
But it is an incontrovertible fact that the march of technology can neither be stopped nor it is good to create any stumbling blocks in its frontiers. My personal experience is that Virtual Courts are working well both in the Judges’ courts as well as in the Registrars’ courts. An advocate makes one to one submission before the judge. The Name of the advocate appears on the screen, so the judges often address them by their names unlike in the physical courts where an advocate is generally addressed as ‘Mr or Madam Counsel’. The system is at the