Maharashtra gets 1st virtual court for traffic challan cases

A dedicated virtual court for traffic violations in Maharashtra has been inaugurated by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde, an initiative aimed at freeing up judicial officers in every district from the burden of routine cases involving challans.

The court, to be located in Katol near Nagpur, will be manned by a single judge who will have jurisdiction over the entire state. "Cases from across Maharashtra will be filed in this virtual court electronically,” said Justice Dhananjay Chandrachud. “A single judge sitting in Katol will adjudicate all the cases electronically. Violators can plead guilty and pay the fine by visiting vcourts.gov.in or choose the option to contest the case. If a violator decides to contest the case, then it will be assigned to the court in whose jurisdiction the traffic violation has taken place.”

The concept of virtual courts was popularised by the Supreme Court's E-Committee headed by Justice D Y Chandrachud. Delhi was the first to get virtual courts after traffic violations captured on cameras were sent to the owner of the offending vehicle. It not only stopped traffic police from harassing drivers but also helped the fine money go to the state instead of a portion lining the pockets of some corrupt traffic policemen.

Delhi with 110 lakh vehicles has now emerged as the traffic rule violations capital as the virtual court has received 27 lakh challans, one-third of which were compounded after payment of fines that totalled Rs.120 crore.

"Implementation of the virtual court concept has freed 19 judicial officers who now can handle litigation instead of taking up routine traffic violation cases," Justice Chandrachud said.

One virtual court each was set up in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Haryana and Kerala during the lockdown. The virtual court in Kerala, which has as many vehicles as Delhi recorded barely 1,468 traffic violation cases and collected Rs.1.35 lakh in fines. TN’s virtual court received over 32,000 traffic challans and compounded offences on payment of fines, which totalled Rs.93 lakh.

Justice Chandrachud said the E-Committee could assign the task of running the virtual court to any judicial officer in Maharashtra. The task of compounding the offence on payment of fine can be performed from anywhere in the state as all work is done electronically by virtual mode, he added.

He said between January 1 to October 30, which included the seven months of nonphysical functioning of courts due to Covid-19, as many as 202.35 crore e-transactions were recorded on ecourt websites. Average etransactions for 304 days this year was 66.56 lakh per day.

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