The global Covid-19 pandemic that has lead to lockdowns in a large number of nations around the world, and has caused serious disruption in all facets of life for an uncertain period has no doubt affected the Indian legal landscape also. Taking into consideration the fact that a complete shutdown of the Indian justice system is unfavourable, the law firms have implemented work from home policies, whereas, the judicial administrators have adopted technology by conducting virtual hearings through video conferencing.
Changes to the Indian Legal System
Covid-19 has upset the Indian Legal System like never before. It has cast a questioning light on the outdated way justice is dispensed, law is taught, and legal services are delivered. The pandemic has channelized the potential of under-utilized tools and alternative work models (like virtual hearings). Traditional ways of working have been altered and accepted at an astonishing speed and with ease.
In a very short span of time, law schools had transitioned to online schooling and learning, the Courts had resorted to the Virtual Courts System and law firms are continuing to work from home providing technology to be a lifeline for the Indian legal landscape.
The impact of the pandemic has been majorly seen in the Indian courtrooms. With a view to adhere to the social distancing norms and to curb the spread of the second wave of this infectious virus, the Indian Courts have resorted to Virtual Hearings in Virtual Court Rooms to make sure that administration of justice remains undisturbed. A most recent example that can be quoted here is that of Justice Jasmeet Singh of the Delhi High Court who carried on the virtual hearing beyond 11 pm on Monday, 21st June 2021 to complete the matters listed before him!
The example also suggests that having reformed the Indian legal landscape by adopting technology during this unprecedented global crisis, the Indian Legal System has implemented and safeguarded our ancient custom – Justice, at all Cost, Always!
A New Way Forward
The present pandemic situation is quite unpredictable. It is very difficult to say for how long the social distancing orders and movement restrictions will remain in force. It is being believed that these preventive measures will remain for a long time even after the current situation has subsided.
The current circumstances are likely to supercharge the transformation of the Indian Legal System. Chances are that Covid-19 will drive law into the digital era and restructure its landscape. The judicial directive of instituting the Virtual Court System to make the justice delivery system accessible to everyone is a welcome change. In doing so, Indian courts have held up the chief principle of the Indian Legal System, i.e., justice must not only be done but seen to be done.
The challenges in these trying times should be utilized as an opportunity for the Indian Legal System to revamp and strengthen their operating procedures to alleviate the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic at the earliest. That being said, whereas on one hand even though a quick transition is the need of the hour, yet, on the other hand, it ultimately would depend on the individual capacity of the stakeholders to adapt and adapt to this dynamic situation.