INDIAN JUDICIAL SYSTEM: Need and Remedies
India leads in the information technology world. India is showcasing its achievements all over in information technology for the past two decades. Indian judiciary perhaps the best domain to benefit from IT, is yet to embrace this new vista. Indian judiciary comprises of 15,000 courts situated in approximately 2500 court complexes through out the country. Current total pendency of the cases in these courts is around 3,00,00,000. There is no data readily available which gives the Chief Justices a complete picture of the type of cases pending before the Subordinate Courts. Details like the number of cases filed daily, the section of the Act under which the cause of action is invoked, the advocates appearing for the parties, whether the case is a criminal or a civil case etc., are not available readily. The quantity of data created in the course of judicial proceedings in 15,000 courts is huge. This data which is spread over large quantity of paper documents is almost never readily available, is unusable or available at a cost. Even in cities like Chennai, Mumbai, B’lore and Calcutta people have to wait for days and pay through their noses for a simple thing such as a copy of the judgment. Slow service of summons further slow down the process, which effectively stays the trial and delays the disposal. Interim relief, injunctions and orders delay the hearing of the main issues. The lack of resistance on adjournment and reluctance to limit adjournments further perpetrate the delay. In brief justicing process in India is in a state of disrepair. It is caught in a vicious cycle of delays and backlogs. This development grows on with no noticeable solution just around the corner.
The fundamental principle behind justifying the existence of any judicial system is to ensure dispensation of justice at the earliest opportunity. In a democracy like ours, Judiciary plays significant role in adjudicating the rights of the litigant public. It has been established beyond doubt that with the help of Information Technology the process of dispensation of justice can be made easier, more convenient, accurate, less time consuming, less expensive involving lesser manual labour. Introduction of Information Technology in court management has expedited the movement of files and records attended by transparency in the entire system of administration of justice. Since documents will be preserved in electronic form, moving documents will be easier, faster and cheaper. It is less susceptible to fraud, tampering or being "lost" or "unavailable".
E-litigation in India
The concept is relatively new, there is no specific and effective framework to transform our court system to a paperless e-litigation system that allows court documents to be prepared and filed electronically. We should develop infrastructure facilities that support paperless e-litigation system which allows lawyers to prepare, file, extract, serve and receive documents electronically. Copies of e-documents can be easily inspected and extracts thereof made available to lawyers in the comfort in their own offices. Unlimited number of electronic documents could be stored in a very little space relieving paper handling problems.
Benefits of the system
- Improved efficiency & productivity
- Provides an automated case tracking and monitoring system
- Pro-active role in case management
- Provides an integrated information system
- Facilitates faster document filing and retrieval
- Less manpower
- No paper handling problems
- Minimizes corruption
- Improved confidentiality and security of case records
- Needs no storage facility for case records
All technology courts should have the latest audio-visual technology which facilitates the presentation of evidence and greater efficiency in the hearing process. Video - conferencing facilities should also be made available for the testimony of vulnerable witnesses who are unable to be physically present in court. The proceedings should be recorded in digital audio form in all trials in the Court which are considered as official records. Transcriptions of recordings are done at the same time so that the parties and their counsel could have their transcriptions to suit their litigation needs.
The Electronic Queue Management System (EQMS)
The Electronic Queue Management System (EQMS) should be made functioning in all Courts. This will provide an efficient and equitable system for managing queues. This serves on a first–come-first served basis and notifies lawyers of when their case is going to be taken up through display screens located at various places in the building. Lawyers and the parties may also opt to be notified by SMS on their mobile phones. This system effectively prevents the wastage of valuable time of the lawyers and the litigants in courts.
Electronic Filing System (EFS)
The Electronic Filing System should function very efficiently in the Supreme Court and Subordinate Courts, which offers the following services in civil litigation.
- Electronic Filing Service,
- Electronic Extract Service,
- Electronic Service of Documents ,
- Electronic Information Service.
This paperless litigation system is part of the case management strategy which is aimed to reduce the increasingly growing load of cases and improve court operations.
Information Technology revolution is definitely catching up every corner of India. Keeping in tune with modern technology is of paramount importance to facilitate and improve court administration and to have an efficient and effective judicial system. Therefore it is the duty of the government to take appropriate action to modernize our judiciary by providing with modern technology courts and e-litigation system to suit the twenty first century.
(Writer Vinod Kuriakose can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)