Virtual Courts

From Justice Definitions Project

What is a Virtual court?

A virtual court is an arrangement in which judicial processes are carried out online via digital technology and channels of communication. The judges, counsel, litigants, and other participants can participate in court procedures without personally being present in a courtroom by using video conferencing, electronic file management, and other online methods.

Digital submission of documents and supporting materials replaces the requirement for paper paperwork in a virtual court. Judges can render judgments, orders, and decisions virtually. By allowing people to take part in legal procedures from any location with an internet connection, this technology-driven strategy attempts to promote access to justice, improve efficiency, and get around geographical limitations.


The digital database and interactive platforms enable:-

  1. Tracking the status and details of a particular case pending in any court in the country.
  2. Managing pendency of matters in various judicial institutions across the country.
  3. Extraction and utilization of the database to fast track categories of cases.
  4. Efficient utilization of court resources.
  5. Analysis of data to monitor and map the judiciary’s competencies and effectiveness.

Considering it is crucial to first determine the kind of cases that may be efficiently resolved by virtual courts, the following types of issues have currently been proven practicable to be tried in virtual courts as part of the pilot project:-

  • Traffic Challan Cases (Motor Vehicle Act Offenses)
  • Petty offenses for which Section 206 of the Code of Criminal Procedure summons may be issued

As of May 31, 2023, there were 22 such courts spread over 18 States and one union territory, including two each in Delhi, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Maharashtra, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Meghalaya, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Tripura, Gujarat, and West Bengal.[1]

Litigants have the option to electronically file their complaint through e-Filing and to pay any court costs or fines online through Through numerous channels designed for service delivery, the litigant can also view the status of their case online, allowing them to complete the full process while relaxing in their own home. “22 virtual courts dealt with more than 3.11 billion cases (3,11,53,687), and more than 37 lakh cases (37,86,486) have resulted in online fines totaling more than Rs. 408.28 billion as of 31.05.2023.”[2]

[3] Content Owned by Department of Justice, Ministry of Law and Justice, GOI

History of Virtual Court in India

The "National Policy and Action Plan for Implementation of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in the Indian Judiciary - 2005" provided by the e-committee, Supreme Court of India served as the foundation for the creation of the e-courts Project, which had the goal of transforming the Indian Judiciary by enabling Courts with ICT.

Section 275 Code of Criminal Procedure subsection (1) was amended in 2009 to add the following proviso:

"Provided that the evidence of a witness under this subsection may also be recorded by audio-video electronic means in the presence of the advocate of the person accused of the offense."

By examining this clause, we can conclude that it is acceptable to use video conferencing to obtain a witness' testimony. The Apex Court and numerous other courts have both permitted and disallowed the videotaping of the evidence.

In the State of Maharashtra vs. Dr. Praful B Desai[4], the Supreme Court approved the video conferencing testimony of witnesses who happened to be overseas.

Suo Motu Writ Petition (Civil) No. 5/2020[5] was filed before the Supreme Court of India's Civil Original Jurisdiction by the court on its own motion to address the issues the COVID-19 pandemic has brought up for the judiciary. The petition sought to protect everyone's safety throughout the pandemic while maintaining access to justice.

The petition's main points centered on the establishment of rules for using video conferencing in court sessions. The Supreme Judicial set detailed guidelines for holding judicial proceedings digitally after realizing the need to adjust to the pandemic's circumstances. These rules permitted virtual hearings rather than actual ones held in courtrooms, ensuring the efficient operation of the legal system.

During the epidemic, the court was able to continue its legal procedures while abiding by social distance standards and public health recommendations by utilizing the use of video conferencing technology. The Supreme Court's proactive attitude in adopting this procedure provided a model for other Indian courts to follow, assuring the continuation of justice in these extraordinary times.

Research that engages with

  • The PRS Legislative Research has published a Report Summary on the 'Functioning of Virtual Courts’ Standing Committee Report Summary - Functioning of Virtual Courts , which the Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice submitted. The committee was chaired by Mr.Bhupender Yadav. The research emphasized the necessity of incorporating virtual courts within the nation's judicial system. The committee's main recommendations included the following: Subordinate Courts, E-Courts Project, Indigenous Software, Open Courts, and Continued Use of Virtual Courts.
  • Virtual Courts in India: A Strategy Paper, a report paper by VIDHI, Centre for Legal Policy, has emphasized the necessity of a methodical, scientific approach to technology integration in the judiciary. According to the report, three crucial system realities currently have an impact on the strategy document: the immediate requirement to maintain system accessibility;  the necessity to harness rather than discard the e-Courts mission mode project's partial advancements, and; poor adoption caused by antipathy to technology or a lack of ability.

To eventually realize the goal of virtual courts in India, the article identifies the elements necessary to strategically make such choices.

  • DAKSH has written a report on  VIDEO CONFERENCING IN INDIAN COURTS, the paper suggests a variety of techniques, including taking into account the nature of the case, particular phases or conditions, application-based access, and giving priority to urgent cases in times of emergency. It admits that elements like infrastructure, technology, and digital literacy must be taken into account in the Indian context.
  1. Examining the architectural framework for video conferencing in courts, with a focus on case listing, identity verification, holding hearings, sharing documents, and issuing orders. Aspects of due process are also covered, including safeguarding vulnerable witnesses' privacy and accessibility for those with disabilities.
  2. A global perspective is given, contrasting the usage of video conferencing in the US, Canada, Australia, and the UK. The article examines various platforms employed in these nations and highlights the requirement for a full virtual court environment that complies with security norms and offers necessary collaboration capabilities.
  3. The last section of the report presents an implementation approach, which includes assessing existing usage, carrying out pilot studies, and having high courts develop regulations. It stresses how crucial it is to evaluate the efficiency of video conferencing in courts before devoting more funds.
  • The Rajya Sabha, Department- Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice published the 103th Report, Report on Virtual Courts on 11th September 2020. The report is a thorough analysis of how video conferencing and virtual courts operate in judicial procedures. To ensure the continuance of justice while maintaining safety regulations, the study explains the steps for the successful application of these technical solutions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The research discusses several issues of virtual court proceedings, including case administration, technical infrastructure, and access to justice. It acknowledges the difficulties encountered while switching to virtual courts and provides helpful recommendations for enhancing their effectiveness. The paper also stresses the value of instructing legal professionals and court personnel in the use of video conferencing technologies. Additionally, it addresses issues with data security, privacy, and the requirement for ongoing analysis and updates to improve the virtual court system.

Appearance in Official database for Virtual Court

The e-Courts Mission Mode Project, is a Pan-India Project, monitored and funded by the Department of Justice, Ministry of law & Justice, Government of India for the district courts across the country.

One can reach the official website for Virtual Court and select the Department as required. There are departments according to the states. One needs to select the appropriate state and authority to move forward and track the case.


The Virtual Court site provides informations on the basis of four categories:

  1. Search by Case Number Record: Each case submitted to district and taluka courts is given a specific number called a CNR. You can access the case's current status and specifics after entering the CNR number.
  2. By Challan or Vehicle number: The Challan which is given by the respective authority contains an unique no. or the Vehicle number which is involved, can be used to track the case progress.
  3. By Party name (belonging to the case): The name of the party who is involved in the case should be mentioned.
  4. By Registered Mobile Number: The Mobile number which is registered in the case.
  • The Department of Justice, Ministry of Law and Justice, Govt of India and the e-Committee, Supreme Court of India have provided an User Manual for e-Filing procedure for High Courts and District Courts in India.

Some Similar Terms but Different Meanings:

Virtual Court:

In virtual courts, written submissions such as valaklatnama, plaints, and court fees have to be provided electronically. Evidence is also uploaded digitally. Arguments are presented over videoconferencing, witnesses provide their testimony remotely over videoconferencing, and the judge renders a decision online while supervising either from the actual courtroom or from another location. A copy of the Order or Judgment is made accessible electronically or via the Court's webpage.[7]

Online Courts:

It constitutes an advancement over Virtual Courts. The sole distinction between virtual courts and online courts is that in the former, hearings take place in real-time, while in the latter, interactions take place asynchronously. This means that for a case to move forward in Virtual Court proceedings, the judge, counsel, parties, and witnesses must be present. In contrast, in an online court, all parties do not need to be present at once; the judge will hear arguments and receive evidence without the parties being there simultaneously.

Online Dispute Resolution:

Online platforms are used to use Alternative Dispute settlement Mechanisms to settle disagreements between parties. This practice is known as online dispute settlement.

Way Forward

Virtualized hearings eliminate the issues that presently plague court systems around the world, such as distance, logistics, postponements, and expenses. Justice Chandrachud recently reported that Virtual Courts established to resolve Traffic Challan issues have so far earned 101.74 crores without the parties' presence being required in the conventional brick-and-mortar courtroom.[8] Over 15 million hearings were held through video conferencing during the lockdown period despite infrastructure constraints.

Certain criminal offenses that are suited to remote procedures can be successfully handled by virtual courts. These may include non-violent legal proceedings such as intellectual property disputes, white-collar crimes, financial fraud, cybercrimes, and some civil matters. These crimes frequently entail intricate evidence that may be presented digitally, making virtual court procedures feasible.

The judicial system can increase effectiveness, cut costs, and give accessible access to justice for all parties by using virtual courts for these particular types of offenses.

This can provide speedy justice to the citizens.

Reference List

  1. Department of Justice, Ministry of Law & Justice, Govt of India, ‘Virtual Courts, 28 June 2023 <,be%20done%20sitting%20at%20home.> accessed 28 June 2023
  2. Department of Justice, Ministry of Law & Justice, Govt of India, ‘Virtual Courts, 28 June 2023 <,be%20done%20sitting%20at%20home.> accessed 28 June 2023
  4. The State Of Maharashtra vs Dr Praful B Desai SC Crl. A. 476 of 2003; 477 of 2003
  7. "Fairness and legislation for virtual courts" by Mugdha Mohapatra and Ajay Shah (2023)
  8. Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law And Justice FUNCTIONING OF VIRTUAL COURTS/ COURT PROCEEDINGS THROUGH VIDEO CONFERENCING (INTERIM REPORT) [Report No. 103, 2020]
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