Access to Justice during COVID-19 in India

November 28, 2023
symbolizing justice and order


The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted every aspect of life, including the functioning of the justice system in India. The lockdown measures imposed to curb the spread of the virus significantly impacted people’s access to justice. Courts have been forced to limit their operations, leading to a backlog of cases and delays in delivering justice. This article explores the challenges faced by individuals seeking justice during the pandemic and highlights the efforts made to ensure access to justice in these unprecedented times.

Following were the different impacts that were seen during COVID-19 with respect to access to justice-

1. Limitations on Physical Court Proceedings

The nationwide lockdown necessitated the suspension of physical court hearings, causing a surge in pending cases. The inability to hold in-person proceedings has resulted in delays, especially for urgent matters. To address this challenge, courts have shifted towards virtual hearings, utilizing video conferencing technology. This transition has allowed for some level of continuity in legal proceedings, albeit with its own set of challenges.

2. Technological Barriers and the Digital Divide

While virtual hearings have been a lifeline for many, they have also exposed the digital divide prevalent in India. Access to reliable internet connectivity and necessary devices poses a significant challenge, particularly for marginalized communities. The lack of technological infrastructure hampers individuals’ ability to participate effectively in virtual court proceedings, limiting their access to justice.

3. Legal Aid and Assistance

Access to legal aid has always been crucial for ensuring justice for all, especially for those who cannot afford legal representation. During the pandemic, legal aid organizations have faced resource constraints due to limited funding and operational difficulties. However, several organizations and lawyers have stepped up to provide pro bono services and online legal consultations, ensuring that vulnerable populations receive the assistance they need.

4. Backlog of Cases and Delayed Justice

The suspension of regular court operations has led to a significant backlog of cases. The already overburdened justice system is now grappling with an even larger number of pending cases. This backlog not only delays justice but also increases the emotional and financial burden on litigants. Courts are employing various strategies, such as prioritizing urgent matters and encouraging alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, to address the backlog and expedite the resolution of cases.

5. Introduction to Mobile Courts in India:

Mobile courts have emerged as effective tools to ensure access to justice during the pandemic. Mobile courts bring justice to remote areas where physical court infrastructure is limited. These courts travel to different locations, resolving cases on the spot. By taking justice directly to the people, mobile courts help overcome geographical barriers and ensure access to justice for those living in remote areas.

6. E-Filing and Online Case Management

To reduce physical contact and streamline processes, e-filing and online case management systems have been implemented. Litigants can file their cases electronically, reducing the need for physical visits to courts. Online case management systems allow lawyers and litigants to track the progress of their cases, ensuring transparency and efficiency in the justice delivery process.

7. Suo moto cognizance of cases by the Supreme Court

 During the pandemic too Supreme Court was instrumental in protecting, upholding and meeting the basic right of the people. In rcognizing the ‘right to health of the citizens’ it gave various guidelines to the Government to enforce this fundamental right of the citizens for example the case of  Re distribution of essentials supplies and services during pandemic.

8. Justice to under trial prisoners

Under trial prisoners were at imminent health risk during pandemic as the preventive measures of covid like social distancing and quarantine couldn’t be practised in prisons. Indian prisoners are already overburdened due to the large number of under trial prisoners in those. Though in this regard certain under trial prisoners were set free and were allowed to go home.

9. Moratorium period benefits

Waiver of loan and proving moratorium benefit was another benefit conferred to the borrower during Covid 19.

10. Call for Legal Reforms

 The pandemic has highlighted the need for comprehensive legal reforms to strengthen access to justice in India. The digitization of court processes needs to be accelerated, ensuring that all individuals, regardless of their economic status, have access to necessary technology. Additionally, increased funding for legal aid organizations can help bridge the gap in legal representation for marginalized communities. More mobile courts must be introduced and also steps must be taken to uplift the condition of under trial prisoners.


The COVID-19 pandemic has presented unprecedented challenges to the Indian justice system. While virtual hearings and technological advancements have provided some relief, they have also exposed the digital divide and limitations of the current system. It is imperative for the government, legal community, and civil society organizations to work together to address these challenges and ensure that access to justice remains a fundamental right for all, even during these trying times.

Significance of the Topic

Judiciary coaching suggest that every Covid-19 related topic is significant for the judiciary exams especially which are going to be conducted in 2024. The present topic covers some of the vital aspects of access to justice in India. Therefore, according to judiciary coaching every judiciary aspirant must prepare this topic with the perspective of essay.

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