Supreme Court Praises Orissa HC For Creatively Utilizing Technology, Asks Other High Courts To Replicate Use Of Technology
The Supreme Court has lauded Orissa High Court for creatively using technology to bridge the time taken to travel from other parts of Odisha to Cuttack.
The Court opined that other High Courts must replicate the use of technology to ensure access to justice.
“The High Court of Orissa has creatively utilised technology to bridge the time taken to travel from other parts of Odisha to Cuttack. Indeed, other High Courts must replicate the use of technology to ensure that access to justice is provided to widely dispersed areas. This will ensure that citizens have true access to justice by observing and participating in the proceedings before the High Courts in cases of concern to them.”, the bench of CJI Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud and Justice Hima Kohli observed.
The Court made this observation while holding that provisions of the Constitution does not preclude the Centre from abolishing state administrative tribunals and upheld a decision to abolish the Orissa Administrative Tribunal (OAT).
Advocates Ashok Panigrahi and Aman Hingorani, led arguments on behalf of the appellants whereas Advocate General Ashok Kr Parija and Balbir Singh, Additional Solicitor General, appeared for Respondents.
On the contention that the abolition of the Orissa Administrative Tribunal violated the fundamental right of access to justice, the Court noted that-
“The fundamental right of access to justice is no doubt a crucial and indispensable right under the Constitution of India. However, it cannot be interpreted to mean that every village, town, or city must house every forum of adjudication created by statute or the Constitution.”
The Court added that undeniably some courts and forums will be located in some towns and cities and not others and that some or the other litigants will be required to travel some distance to access a particular forum or court.
The Court observed that the Orissa High Court has established benches which would operate virtually in multiple cities and towns across the state. The Court added that this negates the appellants’ argument that the Orissa High Court is less accessible than the OAT.
“In fact, the number of virtual benches of the High Court is greater than the number of benches of the OAT. Litigants from across the state can access the High Court with greater ease than they could access the OAT.”, the Court observed.
“The abolition of the OAT does not leave litigants without a remedy or without a forum to adjudicate the dispute in question. It is therefore not violative of the fundamental right of access to justice.”, the Court held.
Cause Title- Orissa Administrative Tribunal Bar Association v. Union of India & others
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