The observation from Union Minister for Law and Justice Ravi Shankar Prasad came during an interaction with a team of law officers headed by the Attorney General K.K. Venugopal and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.
The meeting was also attended by all Additional Solicitors General and Assistant Solicitors General, Secretary of Department of Legal Affairs and Secretary of Department of Justice. It was the first-of-its kind virtual meeting organized during the lockdown imposed to curb the spread of coronavirus outbreak.
“It was felt that in view of the seriousness of the pandemic, court proceedings through video conferencing may remain a norm for some time to come”, said Prasad.
The Law Minister emphasized taking this challenge as an opportunity to make digital systems in justice delivery more robust. “The Attorney General and many other law officers emphasized that there is a need to strengthen the e-courts system by addressing the connectivity issues and by training lawyers in e-courts management”, said a statement issued by the Ministry of Law and Justice.
Citing a flurry of PILs in various courts during the coronavirus pandemic, Prasad said during these challenging times overzealous PILs need to be avoided. “Though one cannot stop anyone from filing cases, there must be an effective response to these types of interventions”, he added.
A Similar concern has also been flagged by the Supreme Court, where it remarked that the concept of PIL has been forgotten.
Prasad emphasized that addressing such a serious pandemic throws up a complicated and sensitive nature of challenges, which the governance system has responded to and that it would be appropriate that this decision-making process of the Centre and the state governments needs to be trusted.
The Law Minister directed the Secretary Justice, who is also a member of the e-Court Committee of the Supreme Court, to coordinate to bring these challenges before the committee and in coordination with National Informatics Centre and other agencies and improve the system.
“As many as 1,282 advocates have registered for e-filing of petitions during lockdown out of which 543 advocates have registered in the last one week alone. Secretary, Department of Legal Affairs, explained the coordination system available in the Law Ministry about following the cases related to COVID-19. It was a common consensus that there has to be uniformity in our approach and the orders of the Supreme Court should be immediately conveyed to various high courts”, added the statement.