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Varsha Aithala

[email protected]

Varsha Aithala is a Ph.D. student at the National Law School of India University. Her doctoral research examines the scope for private capital in Indian legal system reform. Her research interests span the areas of contract law, corporate law, legal system reform and the legal profession. She has a Master’s degree in Corporate Law from the University of Cambridge and a Bachelor’s degree in Law from Nalsar University of Law. Previously, she was Research Fellow and a faculty member at the School of Policy and Governance, Azim Premji University. Prior to that, she worked as senior associate in Samvād: Partners. She has more than a decade of practice experience in corporate and commercial laws in India and the United Kingdom. Varsha is Business and Legal Regulation Lead at Justice Adda.

The Supreme Court of India's Vision for e-Courts: The Need to Retain Justice as a Public Service [HTML version]

One of the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic is the change in the way in which societies - individuals and groups, businesses and governments - op

The Supreme Court of India's Vision for e-Courts: The Need to Retain Justice as a Public Service

Disruptions, at times, become catalysts for initiating change. Although India’s journey to create digital infrastructure to deliver justice commenced before the outbreak of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), lockdowns imposed to curb the spread of the pandemic hastened the pace of the country’s judicial system going online. In this Policy Watch, legal researchers, Siddharth Peter de Souza , Varsha Aithala and Srishti John , discuss some fundamental issues that emerge from India’s plans to move towards e-Courts. This digitalised mode of delivering justice enabled courts to function with some capacity during the multiple lockdowns in India since March 2020. While the authors recognise the value of e-Courts, they argue that unless the digitalisation efforts factor in considerations of equity and inclusion for users, the outcomes would remain hollow and divorced from India’s socio-political reality. The Supreme Court of India recently placed a draft of its Vision Document for e-Courts for public discussion until May 31, 2021. Drawing from this document, the authors critically evaluate India’s approach towards electronic dispensation of justice, highlight conceptual issues relating to delivery of justice as a service that need to be addressed. They call for a fundamental rethink of the vision for e-Courts to ensure that the delivery of justice remains in the domain of public service. The aim of this Policy Watch is to highlight the implications of widening the range of players involved in the process of justice delivery by commodifying it without adequate scrutiny or accountability. Understanding these implications is important to bring about corrective action that will ensure that the administration of justice remains equally accessible and accountable to all. HTML version Related Resources : 1. Department of Justice, Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of India. 2015 . Evaluation Study of eCourts Integrated Mission Mode Project , National Council of Applied Economic Research. []. 2. e-Committee, Supreme Court of India . Rules on Live-Streaming and Recording of Court Proceedings . []. Related Articles Published in The Hindu Centre for Politics and Public Policy: 1. Priya, R. et al., 2022. COVID-19: Urban Middle Class Survey Highlights Need for People’s Agency in Policy Making, February 18. 2. Subramanian, S. 2021. Pandemic-induced Poverty in India after the First Wave of COVID-19: An Elaboration of Two Earlier Estimates, August 19. 3. Shankar, G and Kiumari, R. 2020. The Migrant Economy During the Pandemic: An Exploratory Study in Baisi Block, Bihar, December 10. 4. Jacob, N. 2020. Sewage Testing as a Pandemic Monitoring Tool, September 10. [PDF 474 KB]