25 lakhs virtual hearings took place in various courts of India: Prasad

New Delhi: Highlighting the initiative taken by the Indian government for providing affordable and easy access to justice for all, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) member states on Friday that over 25 lakh hearings through video conference have taken place at various courts of India during COVID-19, out of which 9,000 virtual hearings have taken place at the Supreme Court alone.

Addressing the Seventh Meeting of Ministers of Justice of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) the Member States, hosted by India, Prasad highlighted that through Tele-Law services initiated in 2017, so far 3.44 lakh free legal consultations have been given to poor people through video conferencing.

He also highlighted e-Courts projects with Video-Conferencing facility and rolling out of virtual courts, as part of the government’s successful transformative change in process automation from the conventional brick and mortar court architecture.

“During COVID-19 pandemic over 25 lakh hearing through video conference have taken place at various courts of India, out of which 9,000 virtual hearings have taken place at the Supreme Court alone. He apprised the gathering of the high priority, the government has given to frame business facilitating laws and rules, including Commercial Courts Act and Arbitration Laws with a view to make India a preferred destination for investment and business,” the official statement read.

Besides Prasad from India, Justice minister of China, Tang Yijun; Justice minister of Kyrgyz Republic, M.T. Dzhamankulov; Russian Justice minister K. A. Chuichenko; Tajikistan Justice minister MK Ashriyon; Uzbekistan Justice Minister RK Davletov; and an authorised representative of the Ministry of Law and Justice of Pakistan, Ambreen Abbasi, participated in the Justice Ministers’ Meeting.

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The keynote address and closing remarks in the meeting were delivered by Anoop Kumar Mendiratta, Secretary, Department of Legal Affairs, Ministry of Law and Justice participated in the event.

As part of activities of Justice Ministers’ Forum, Prasad urged the SCO Member States to promote the exchange of ideas, best practices and experiences in identified areas through the platform. He also stressed on widening the spectrum of activities being undertaken in the Forum, in particular, and SCO in general.

Earlier, the Experts Working Group of SCO Member States discussed the importance of promoting alternative dispute resolution mechanism as also cooperation in all spheres including legal, given the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

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The Seventh Session of the Ministers of Justice of the SCO Member States deliberated on areas of cooperation; emphasised the high relevance of mutual exchange of legal information on counteraction to the spread of the coronavirus pandemic and acknowledged the need for cooperation in ADR mechanism area, among others.

A joint statement following the results of the Seventh Session of the Ministers of Justice of the SCO Member States was also adopted.

The ministers agreed to strengthen the work on the implementation of the Agreement on Cooperation between the Ministries of Justice of the SCO Member States in August 2015 and to continue the work on the implementation of the Action Plans of the working groups of experts on forensic activities and legal services for 2018-2020, as well as to develop Action Plans for 2021-2023.

They also agreed to consider organising exchange programs for representatives of the ministries (law and justice of the SCO member-states) to study the best practices in alternative dispute resolution. 

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