Justice Abhay Oka of the Supreme Court lamented on Monday that it is difficult to get funds from Maharashtra government for any project.
He was speaking at an event organised by the Bombay Bar Association, The Advocates Association of Western India and The Bombay Incorporated Law Society on “The Role of Technology in Courts”. Justice Oka, as Chief Justice of Karnataka HC, spearheaded the use of technology during the lockdown.
“When we submitted a proposal for providing laptops to judges, the question was asked, why do judges need laptops? Are judges really using laptops? A lot of questions were asked. And hence the implementation was not uniform,” he said.
He said that it was a misconception that the judiciary started using technology only after the nation-wide lockdown was implemented in March 2020. It (lockdown) was only a trigger, the judiciary had been using technology much prior to that.
“The lockdown worked as a trigger, and courts were forced to use technology to innovate. Using video conference is only a small and negligible use of technology in judiciary,” said Justice Oka.
He elaborated that the technology is used to make the system more efficient and accessible to all.
His experience regarding implementation of technology is much talked about, be it starting court hearings on Zoom, continued hybrid mode of court proceedings or live streaming court proceedings of important public interest issues and not individual matters.
However, he said that more credit should be given to the committed judges, registry staff and technical staff of the Karnataka HC. Each person contributed for paying Zoom subscription in US Dollars as (Karnataka) State government rules did not permit them to make payments.
“We had to pay a subscription for Zoom in US dollars. Judges, registry staff paid with their own credit cards. It took me four months to get reimbursement,” he said.
He emphasised that use of technology was the only way forward and digitisation of all records / files before the trial courts and district courts would be the next step. “The emphasis is going to be on compulsory e-filing of cases and paperless courts. We keep calling for the record of the trial courts. After files are digitized, we will get digital files,” he concluded.
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