E-Courts In India: Time To Act Now

February 14th, 2009 - 10:26 pm ICT by VKS  

Information technology (IT) is not only a specialty of India but also can be used for India’s developmental issues and projects. One such area that requires an immediate attention pertains to use of IT for an effective administration of justice in India. The establishment of effective E-Courts in India stems from this pressing need.

Establishment of e-courts in India is not an easy task. This is so because the same requires tremendous techno-legal and domain specific expertise. The starting point for the same is to have a homogenous and holistic composition of the techno-legal experts for E-Court Committee as well as those handing the project. The Indian government and judiciary do not understand that in the absence of good experts to manage the project, e-courts in India would remain a dream only.

Mr. Praveen Dalal, Managing Partner of Perry4Law and Leading Techno-Legal Experts of India, opined “I have no hesitation whatsoever to say that Speedy Justice through E-Courts has miserably failed in India. The concept of E-Judiciary in India is still a Dream and not a reality. If at all E-Courts exists in India they exist on the NEGP Dreamland and papers only. There is also a lack of foresight on the part of those who are managing the e-courts project. Take the example of the facility of e-filing in the Supreme Court of India. The same is faulty on many counts. Firstly, the facility is available only to an “Advocate on Record” (AOR) or a “Party in Person”. Now almost 95% lawyers of India are “disqualified” to file a petition/case in the Supreme Courts unless they use the services of AOR. Secondly, it is available at Supreme Court only that should have been the last Court to have e-courts facility. The most pressing requirement of e-courts is at the ground level, i.e., lower courts that are still far from getting the same. Thirdly, merely computerisation or procurement without training the judicial officers is of no use. Even if we have the e-courts facilities at various courts there would be neither lawyers nor judicial officers to manage the same. We hope the new E-Court Committee would take serious and productive steps to implement E-Courts Project in India”.

It seems the government and judiciary are stressing too much upon procurement and nothing upon management. Mere procurement of IT would do no good. For instance, India recently launched the Model e-court project, 2009 once again upon this faulty premise.

If video conferencing and linking of courts to prisons and other institution is the e-court model of India, we are heading towards nothing. For instance, if we have two laptops having Internet connection, web camera and microphone at prison and concerned court respectively, than the same result can be achieved without wasting hundred of crores of hard earned public money. It seems the government and judiciary are just stressing too much upon technology without understanding and utilising it, says Dalal.

The proposed model e-court projects, 2009 is once again faulty despite all glamour and hype that it has created. E-courts is much more that mere connectivity and computerisation and only God know when India is going to realise this truth and act accordingly.

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