The procedures and practices of courts were brought to a sudden halt with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. This led to the promulgation of virtual courts where previously known traditions of the courts changed in many ways. The dress code was watered down and the understanding of the majesty and dignity of courts had to be re-established. This paper documents the seismic changes that occurred in virtual courts and how the courts had to keep redefining what contempt meant in the context of virtual courts. It is argued that majesty and theatrics affect the dispensation of justice, so when it is slightly ‘lowered’ – as was during the pandemic – the seriousness of the justice process is also scrutinised. The question remains as to whether timing, manner, and presentation are still relevant in times of Covid-19. The paper begins with a theoretical explanation of the majesty and dignity of courts in the pre-pandemic era. The next two sections illustrate the theatre of the court, pre-Covid-19 and during Covid19. The following section is an ethnographic account of the redefining of majesty and dignity in virtual courts. The conclusion discusses the effect of the pandemic on the re-imagining of the spatial dynamics of courts in India.

Custom Citation

Rahela Khorakiwala, 'The Majesty and Dignity of Courts: Changes in Court Dynamics with the Onset of the Covid-19 Pandemic in India' (2022) 18(1) Socio-Legal Review 51

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