Speedy Justice, the e-Court Way

by Muntazir Abbas    Sep 12, 2008

The delivery of speedy justice is just a click away. With things going the e-way, people can avail several facilities in a virtual court. Following a report submitted by the e-committee on national policy and technology, the e-courts implementation that cost more than Rs 850 crore is being implemented in a three-phase manner.

“Right to a speedy trial is contained in Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. It mandates a speedier and timely disposal of a case. Presently, India is facing a mammoth backlog of cases that can be reduced drastically by use of ICT and e-courts,” said Praveen Dalal, techno-legal ICT specialist, and a practicing lawyer at the Supreme Court. Dalal is also a managing partner with Perry4Law.

Meanwhile the National Informatics Centre (NIC), which is the implementing agency for the government has already initiated the first phase of implementation of the e-courts project. The union cabinet has extended the timeframe for the project monitoring committee to oversee the implementation of the e-courts project to February 2009.

“The efforts for the establishment of e-courts in India are not sufficient and needs rejuvenation. This is happening because the legislature and executive are not versed with the litigation and the legal fraternity is never consulted while making techno-Legal laws,” said Dalal.

Although the e-governance initiatives such as e-filing at Supreme Court, online case status, online judgments and online case lists have begun, Dalal said that the e-court initiative still has a long way to go.

Explaining the procedure, he said, the system includes digital connectivity between all the local courts and the Supreme Court. The e-proceedings include e-filing and e- trails, as well as e-documentation. Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Bihar are already piloting this system.

“The e-trials through video conferencing are definitely going to help the court system, where witnesses do not appear in many cases,” said Jaganath Patnaik, former two-term chairman with Bar Council of India and Advocate General for Orissa.

“The implementation of e-courts leads to speedy trials, which normally are delayed due to the usual scenarios prevalent in courts,” said Dhanapal Raj, member with the Bar Council of India and a lawyer in the Tamil Nadu high court. He said there are nearly 70,000 criminal cases pending with state court and a lot can be done through e-proceedings.

Milan Kumar Dey of Jharkhand high court however asked, “How will e-litigation help, as the ratio between the literate and illiterate is so discriminatory in the states?”