Seeking to boost the capability of the lower judiciary to hear cases online, funds have been released to set up ‘video conference cabins’ in 2,506 court complexes across India, Law Ministry officials said.
While funds to the tune of Rs 5.21 crore were released in September to set up video conference cabins, another Rs 28.886 crore were given in October to buy additional video conference equipment, including hardware, cables and monitors, the officials.
The funds were provided by the e-committee of the Supreme Court and the Department of Justice in the Law Ministry. While India has 3,288 court complexes, which house thousands of subordinate courts, the funds have been released for 2,506 court complexes to set up video conference cabins.
Bigger court complexes with a large number of courtrooms would get multiple cabins as compared to smaller complexes. The size of a court complex, including the number of courts it houses, depends upon the size or population of the state.
As courts continue to hear cases online amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has procured 1,500 additional video conferencing licences at an approximate cost of rupees nine crore for providing the facility for high courts and district courts. While the procurement has been completed, the process of installation is on, an official said.
Such licences are required for legal and extended use of the video conference facility software, the official said.
From the day the nationwide lockdown was imposed to check the spread of coronavirus in till October 28, high courts and district courts across India have heard over 49.67 lakh cases virtually, according to data collated by the Law Ministry. The Centre had imposed the lockdown from March 25 to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. From June 8, it started gradually relaxing restrictions under ‘Unlock’.