Analysis Opinion

India: remote hearings and the rights of accused persons

Madhurima Dhanuka, Programme Head at the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative in India, discusses the impact of remote hearings on fair trials.

ICPR and Prison Insider asked several experts worldwide to share their insights in the framework of the project Understanding and reducing the use of imprisonment in 10 countries. Read Madhurima Dhanuka’s insights.


THE PANDEMIC is having profound impacts on access to justice and the rights of accused persons [in India as in much of the world]. Restrictions such as government-imposed lockdowns and curfews have led to court closures and difficulties in continuing with physical hearings. Judiciaries across the world were forced to reconsider the means to deliver justice and are increasingly depending on remote hearings to continue their functioning. Though hailed by many in the [Indian] judiciary, law fraternity and government as a stellar move, there has been less focus on the impact of remote hearings on the fair trial rights of accused persons.

Today, remote hearings have become even more remote

The CHRI study advises caution and restraint in the use of remote hearings for important criminal proceedings.

One would hope that, as we move into the post-pandemic world, we learn from these experiences and address emergent concerns about the use of remote hearings.

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Madhurima Dhanuka

Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative

Madhurima Dhanuka is the Programme Head of Prison Reforms, Access to Justice Programme at Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative in India.

About the project

Understanding and reducing the use of imprisonment in ten countries

This project has been led by the Institute for Crime and Justice Policy Research (ICPR). In selecting the ten jurisdictions included in the study, ICPR has worked with over fifty NGOs and practitioner organisations involved in criminal justice reform. ICPR partnered with Prison Insider in the latter stages of the project to shed light on key aspects of the research. Both organisations collected experts’ insights and facilitated the conversation around the most saliant themes covered by the research. The project focuses on five themes that can be found in the drop down menu.
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