We’ve already covered general provisions related to dispute resolution in India. In this piece we’ll be reviewing changes in Indian dispute resolution procedures that have recently been introduced due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Using Modern Technology for Resolving Disputes in India
Due to the rapid spread of the coronavirus pandemic, courts in India are now conducting proceedings via videoconferencing. Thus, Madras High Court has recently tried a tendering case & ruled that a final hearing cannot be held remotely.
However, the court made a reservation that "the defendants can complete the technical bid opening process & refrain from taking any action until further notice."
Virtual hearings were the subject of an open letter that the Indian Bar Council has forwarded to the Chief Justice of India (CJI) recently. In it, the organization urged the CJI to authorize resumption of face-to-face hearings, citing difficulties encountered by the courts of first instance during virtual trials & issues with registration of evidence as a reason for resumption.
According to the letter, the conflict resolution process in India envisages compliance with traditional procedures for settling disputes in India that are nearly impossible to adhere to during virtual proceedings.
The procedures include:
- exhibiting documents;
- acquainting witnesses with documents;
- observing witnesses’ behavior;
- ensuring that witnesses’ testimony is given without any pressure.
During a recent webinar, one of the Indian Supreme Court’s judges stated that the very essence of the Indian justice system is in ensuring direct public access to it. He also said that despite being a necessity (due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic), modern technology is still unable to fully replace traditional open court hearings.
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