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The Supreme Court today conducted an online demo of the proposed e-filing module through a webinar attended by CJI SA Bobde and the Chairman of the e-committee, Justice DY Chandrachud. During the webinar, CJI Bobde observed that e-filing is the first step in moving towards the e-Courts system.
In a special address delivered by Justice Chandrachud, the Judge said that the pandemic has affected the daily lives of the people and calls for robust and caliberated institutional responses.
This proposed e-filing module is a representation of the collaborative efforts between the Bar and the Bench as well as the Registry, he added with reference to the simplifying of the filing process.
Owing to these changing times, thousands of Courts across the country, in addition to the Supreme Court, have been conducting hearings through video conferencing, the Chairman of the e-committee said.
Justice Chandrachud added further that the e-committee is alive to the fact that not all lawyers have access to technology. Therefore, the solutions proposed for steps towards digitised processes must factor in this situation.
Justice Chandrachud said that the motto of the e-committee is "efficiency, transparency, and access to every user of justicing service" and that one of the initiatives by the committee has been to set up e-seva kendras at High Courts and District Courts.
Speaking on the e-filing module, the Supreme Court Judge said, this module has been developed by a team of 11 members in the last 4 months, despite the nation-wide COVID-19 lockdown which has been in place since March 25.
Listing the features of the module, Justice Chandrachud said that it will provide for 24/7 filing through all seven days of the week. Further, it envisages online time-slotted communication of defects and scrutiny of filed matters and also provides for e-payment of court fees and digital signatures.
In his presidential address, Chief Justice of India, Justice SA Bobde, said, "E-filing seems to be the first step in the entire process of e-Courts." CJI Bobde remarked that through this e-filing module, the Registry will be brought into the chambers of the Advocates.
President of the SCBA, Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave, in his address said that the Bar and the Bench would have to walk side by side to ensure that access to justice is ensured for the litigants at a time like this when the normal functioning of the Courts has had to be restricted due to a health crisis.
He said that the combined efforts of the Bar and the Bench will give a robust platform for the benefit of the most important stakeholder, the litigant. Having said so, Dave requested the Court to consider the combining of e-hearings as well as physical hearings to expand the number of cases that can be heard by the Court.
President of the Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association (SCAROA), Advocate Shivaji Jadhav said that while virtual hearings are the need of the hour and the Supreme Court has left no stone unturned to ensure that access to justice is not stopped despite the pandemic, physical hearings cannot be done away with.
While saying that the virtual hearings should not become the new normal, Jadhav, in lighter vein, said that everyone misses the Court and the joys of physical appearance before the Court. The interaction with the Judges and other lawyers is something all Bar members miss, he said.