The current judges-to-population ratio in India is estimated at 17 judges for every million citizens –far lower than most developed and even developing countries in the world. India has a backlog of 27 million cases. Appointing more judges is the need of the hour but a time-consuming exercise that wouldn’t be accomplished in a day. In this scenario, technology came to the rescue of the Indian Judiciary.
A quick solution to tackle judicial delays and to create enhanced transparency, the Supreme Court has ordered for installation of CCTV cameras with audio recording in every court. This move will usher in transparency, better case management and improve public behavior within the courts. It can herald a mindset change in the Indian judicial system that’s much needed. It will also monitor the conduct of judges in courtrooms and will be helpful in measuring their effectiveness. The number of cases heard, time duration etc., can all be monitored easily. This will also give an overview of the problems that need to be addressed.
Frequent adjournments, reporting late to the court, deciding matters without a proper hearing, etc. are reasons for delays. A study shows adjournments were sought and granted in 91% of the cases delayed over two years at the Delhi high court. Installation of CCTV cameras with an audio recording of all court proceedings in Supreme Court, High Courts and Tribunals will keep a check on whether justice is accorded properly.
Courts in other countries have audio and video recording, as it is not a matter of privacy of judges but to maintain a balance of checks. The proceedings of the US Supreme Court are even available on YouTube. However, the order of the Supreme Court made it clear that the footage of the CCTV camera or the audio recording will not be supplied to anyone without the permission of the concerned court.
The apex court gave one month to the Union Ministry of Information and Technology, and the Department of Justice to come up with standards of technical specifications and pricing of CCTV cameras. The Supreme Court has also directed that video conferencing technique can be used to record statements of witnesses. The technique has already been used in matrimonial disputes tried by the Indian courts.
The court has stated that as a court of record, each and everything should be recorded as long as it didn’t impede the proceedings; and the records were sought to be well maintained only through the help of technology. Globally, judicial proceedings have been simplified through the use of the latest innovations, which has radically affected the quality of verdicts and has an overall improved judiciary. Indian legal industry must embrace the far-reaching result technology can have on it and start incorporating various other technical innovations for speedy disposal of justice.
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