COVID & THE RULE OF LAW

Updated: Sep 2


The phenomenal COVID-19 emergency has brought about significant social,

political, and legitimate difficulties all around. As nations of the world, far

and wide embrace crisis measures to address this emergency, they must keep

on maintaining the standard of law, secure and regard international

standards and fundamental principles of lawfulness, and the right to have

equity, cures, and fair treatment.


The United Nations Response to COVID-19

When humans run fast, nature puts a reverse gear. At present, the world is

under lockdown for renovation due to COVID 19, an infectious disease

caused by a coronavirus that was discovered recently in December 2019 in

Wuhan, the most populous city of China. COVID-19 has created havoc to

the normal functioning of the world. It seems that a small virus with the

negligible size is the reason for the World's lockdown originating in China

and soon spread to every part of the world affecting the world's economy to

a maximum. As people came from Wuhan to India and other affected

countries, they brought the deadly virus with them and infected their

country’s environment. As everything arrived at a halt, the world is

confronting difficulties in every sector and the battle to maintain the rule of

law is one of them. The Justice Delivery System of India is hardly known for

its speed, even in the best of times, it remains the same. Official information

shows that while the organization of new cases, both in the higher legal

judiciary and subordinate judiciary, has descended since the start of the

national lockdown on 25 March 2020 the disposal rate has also been seriously

influenced because of the constrained shutdown of courts. The judiciary has

gone under enormous strain to usher in, during this pandemic to offset

public health concern with access to justice.


Our Judicial framework has been the country's ethical inner voice, talking

truth to political power, maintaining the privileges of its citizens, interceding

the clashes between central and state government, giving equal justice to the

rich and poor the same, and on a few significant events, sparing democratic

rules itself. Notwithstanding its accomplishments, a lacuna between the ideal

and reality has been getting clearer throughout the years. Our justice

delivery system is moderate, the appointment of the jury has always been the

part of the controversy, disciplinary systems barely work, a chain of

stratification rather than calibre is considered, ladies are severely

discriminated and constitutional issues regularly grieve in the Supreme

Court for quite a long time. Justice Chelameswar said in his contradiction in

the NJAC judgment that the courts must change, with the goal that they can safeguard the constitution. The inherent issue with our judiciary is that the

cases continue accumulating in the depository of the courts and takes quite

a long while to be settled, there is defilement, absence of straightforwardness,

especially on account of the appointment of judges, under preliminaries of

the blamed and need for data and connection among people and courts.


IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON THE RULE OF LAW


1) There is a Decline in the Cases: With just restricted Benches managing

selected issues day by day, cases pending before constitution benches have

been set aside for later. In the whole month of April 2020, 82,725 cases were

recorded in India's courts, while disposing of 35,169 cases. In contrast to

2019, when the average number of cases recorded every month was around

14 lakh. While the average number discarded every month was 13.25 lakh.

On the whole, about 3.23 crore cases are pending in the 19,683 subordinate

courts in the nation, of which 90 lakh are civil cases and 2.32 crore are

criminal cases. As of now, there are over a sum of about 48.16 lakh cases

including civil and criminal cases.




2) The new ordinance of Social Distancing: Accessibility is the main function

of the judiciary system. The nature of settling the matter in a court is of

minimal utility to possible defendants if they can't get to it. All courts,

including the Supreme Court, high courts, and regional courts, have been

working in an exceptionally limited way. Most of the courts had chosen to

persevere with the limited working until 17 May 2020.


3) Judicial appointment slowed down: The procedure of the assignation of

judges also has been affected by Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdown.

Indeed, even before Covid-19, more than 35% of posts in high courts were

vacant out of 1,079 endorsed posts, 201 permanent ones, and 184 additional

judges’ positions were yet to be filled. Be that as it may, presently, the

assignation of more than 120 high court judges is pending with the Supreme

Court Collegium, while 50-odd new suggestions have been made by the

different high court collegiums.


4) Quasi-legal bodies have quit working: What is likewise confusing is how

procedures in over twelve courts have gone to a granulating end during the

lockdown despite these legal bodies being outfitted with video conferencing

technology. The focal zonal bench of the National Green Tribunal had been

hearing issues through video conferencing for almost two years yet quit

working since the lockdown. The people should have to bear the immense

cost for this impasse as the NGT had stayed at work on some key government-funded activities. With procedures now being delayed, cost

acceleration for these activities would in the long run be given to common

people.

The pandemic has been changing numerous aspects of our life and

compelling us to develop or grasp the novel changes. The legal executive isn't

insusceptible to this change. Now is the ideal opportunity for the reception

and advancement of online courts. As regards, there were a few endeavours

at the selection of innovation in the working of courts even before the

pandemic but were not implemented. An opportunity has now come to

receive these innovative systems on a more extensive scale. Options in

contrast to traditional courts are The Online courts where the appointed

jury is present in the court yet the legal advisor or prosecutor isn't. This is

the current course of action, except that, now the court is the private office

of the appointed jury, because of the lockdown. Also, the Virtual courts

where there is no appointed jury, legal counsellor or prosecutor and a

computer take decision dependent on the inputs of the defendant.

Therefore to conclude, the coronavirus emergency has empowered courts all

over the world to discover inventive methods of conveying justice. Courts

and their clients must ‘hold onto the occasion’. We critically need a lot of

new laws and procedural principles for the online courts. We need to make

more mindfulness and understanding and make stages and spaces that

welcome and empower lawmakers to meet up, exchange, and work together

to come out with the potential solutions. We should embrace innovation and

new media to make a citizen’s movement by endowing them with the

information, assets, and tools to squeeze the framework to change. The

quickly advancing field of "lawful tech" empowers us to utilize rising

innovations like digitization, process robotization, data and analytics,

Artificial Intelligence to reconsider the working of the citizen-driven legal

system in the 21st century


Authored by

Sibtain Kadri

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