E-Courts In India: An Essential Judicial Reform Ignored By NeGP And Digital India (2009)

Editorial: This article has been originally written in the year 2009 by Praveen Dalal. It has been updated from time to time with latest time stamp. However, it has not been updated since 2016 at original source and we would update it there soon. However, we have updated the date at this blog. 

E-Courts is a crucial project under both National E-Governance Plan (NeGP) and Digital India. E-Courts project has also faced similar treatment and outcomes under both Congress and BJP Governments. Nevertheless, E-Courts project was better managed by Congress Government than BJP Government for two reasons. Firstly, all developments regarding E-Courts have taken place so far because of Congress Government and BJP has not contributed anything in this regard. Secondly, unlike BJP Government, Congress never imposed Controversial projects like Aadhaar that has become the exploitation tool of BJP Government.

E-Courts project is still at the same stage where Congress left it in the year 2014. The second stage of E-Courts is supposed to take another 3 years coinciding with the term of BJP Government i.e. till 2019. Naturally Digital India has little to offer in this regard as we are still waiting for the establishment of “First E-Court of India” till January 2019. The same would not be established till the end of 2019 as BJP Government has not shown any “Political Will” and “Implementation Capabilities” in this regard in the past five years. 

Implementation of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Indian Judiciary and in Indian Courts needs rejuvenation. The successful use of e-governance for Indian e-judiciary model requires a techno-legal e-court framework. We need ICT Training and e-courts training for Indian Judicial System as soon as possible. Further, electronic courts in India must also be supported by active use of online dispute resolution (ODR) in India to reduce backlog of cases. Legal enablement of ICT systems in India is need of the hour.

Establishment of E-Courts in India is an important aspect of judicial and legal reforms in India. However, despite this pressing need India has been doing nothing in this regard except giving press statements since 2003. Till January 2019, we are still waiting for the establishment of first e-court in India. E-Courts in India cannot be established till we have experts who can manage this ambitious e-governance pilot project. Similarly, we also need to train judges and lawyers regarding not only e-courts but also for laws like cyber law and telecommunication laws. India has to do much more than mere press statements and opening of e-courts on “papers only” if it really wishes to encash the benefits of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for effective, speedier and constitutional justice delivery system. The ICT Trends of India of Perry4Law Organisation (P4LO) have proved that Indian e-governance initiatives like E-Courts, E-Bharat, etc have failed due to lack of proper training, management and insight.

The current litigation system of India is not only antique in nature but has become cumbersome and time consuming as well. The backlog of cases is increasing day by day affecting the outcome of various cases. There is an emergent need of judicial and legal reforms in India so that courts in India can meet the expectations of the 21st Century. This has to be done by maintaining a stance that preserves the courts reputation and supports the courts critical role in maintaining public confidence in the protection afforded to them by the law.

The public confidence in the Criminal Justice System of India is declining and the same has forced the Government of India (GOI) to bring this issue right back to the top of the political agenda. Its aim is to cut crimes by increasing the number of criminals brought to trial and reducing the time taken to complete the legal process.

However, if the courts have to keep in step and play their part in restoring public confidence in the legal system then they must find new ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their operations. Information and Communication technology (ICT) can be a panacea for the dying judicial system of India. We can effectively use ICT for establishment of E-Courts in India so that E-Judiciary in India can be a reality.

However, the task is really difficult to achieve because of lack of expertise, techno-legal training and absence of time bound performance. Every year in the month of February, the tenure of E-Courts Committee is extended for another year. This shows there is a lack of Political Will to achieve the task as merely extending time for another year without performance report and accountability is just a pretext to avoid the ultimate accomplishment, i.e. establishment of E-Courts in India.

The fact remains that despite all glamorous conferences, catchy phrases and public announcements, we do not have even a single E-Court in India and there is not even a single case that has been filed, contested and finally adjudicated through an E-Court System in India till January 2019. Where those claimed E-Courts are and what cases they had adjudicated is still a big mystery.

It seems India is just making press statements years after years and courts after courts about establishment of E-Courts in India without actually establishing and operationalising them. The task of their establishment and operationalising cannot be accomplished till we honestly and dedicatedly try to achieve the same. Till now India is just adopting the half hearted efforts and evasive approach.

The establishment of E-Courts in India requires certain prerequisites. These are:

(1) E-Courts Policy: Setting Policy for various aspects of E-Courts is the first and foremost requirement. In the absence of a well defined and pre decided framework, no direction can be given to the E-Courts scheme of India.

(2) Connectivity: Creating an interconnected system across all court levels is an important aspect of E-courts. The District Courts in India must be connected with High Courts and Supreme Court for better, timely and effective disposal of cases.

(3) Simplicity And User Friendly: E-Court mechanism must be not only simple but also be user friendly. The litigants must find the e-Courts facilities in India very easy to adopt.

(4) Scope: In India we consider mere computerisation as establishment of E-Courts. In reality, E-Courts is much broader than mere computerisation and filing facilities.

(5) Authentication: Authentication plays an important role in fixing attribution and legal responsibility. There must be a “Technology Neutral Mechanism” to authenticate various stages of E-Courts usages.

(6) Integrity: E-Courts must ensure integration among court and justice systems.

(7) Security: Security of E-Courts Infrastructure and System is of paramount importance. A system must be put in place that provides secure access to case information for appropriate parties

(8) Data Keeping: All the information regarding use of E-Courts facilities must be duly recorded and stored. These include maintaining proper records of e-file minute entries, notification/service, summons, warrants, bail orders, etc for ready and subsequent references.

(9) Payment Gateway: A secure, efficient and fully operational payment gateway must be established so that various payments and fees regarding court cases can be made online.

(10) Absence Of Monopoly: The E-Courts Project must not be given to a single vendor. Instead the E-Court Committee of India must adopt a multiple vendor approach.

In the opinion of Perry4Law Organisation (P4LO), this list is just “Illustrative” and not exhaustive. Establishment of and maintaining the E-Courts Project in India requires a Techno-Legal approach including getting expertise of matters pertaining to Cyber Security, Cyber Forensics, Digital Evidencing, Prison Reforms, and many more aspects.

INDIAN E-COURTS PROJECT UPDATES OF 2019

India has limited E-Court Infrastructure and we are still waiting for the establishment of First E-Court of India till January 2019.

Source: Legal Enablement Of ICT Systems In India.

Courts Automation Systems In India, E-Courts And Online Dispute Resolution (2013)

Indian courts have been using information and communication technology (ICT) for effective judicial functioning. New features like online cause lists, filing of cases on digital mediums like CDs, providing of judgments online, use of video conferencing, etc. are already being used by courts of India.

However, automation of courts systems in India is still far from satisfactory. We are still waiting for the establishment of first e-court of India. Till now India has been able to computerise some courts alone and e-courts functionalities are still missing.

For instance, courts automation and functionalities like e-filing, submission of notices and evidence, online cross examination, online cyber forensics support, etc are still missing.

At Perry4Law and Perry4Law’s Techno Legal Base (PTLB) we are managing the exclusive techno legal e-courts training and consultancy centre of India. This e-courts centre is also managing software repositories in the fields like courts automation, cyber forensics, cyber security, online dispute resolution, etc.

Further, the e-courts centre of India is also imparting techno legal trainings in the fields like cyber law, cyber forensics, cyber security, e-courts management, courts automation, judicial and legal integration system, legal management systems, e-discovery, etc.

Skills development and trainings for lawyers, public prosecutors, law enforcement agencies, judges and court master and staff is also undertaken by PTLB.

ICT can be used to bring judicial reforms in India. At Perry4Law and PTLB we believe that establishment of e-courts in India and using online dispute resolution in India for effective and alternative dispute resolution can not only bring the pending cases down but also help in providing speedy and economic justice to the litigants.

The sooner e-courts are established in India and ODR is used for alternative dispute resolution the better it would be for the legal and judicial system of India.

Source: Legal Enablement Blog Of PTLB.

Cyber Police Reforms In India Are Needed (2011)

Police reforms in India are long overdue. Whether it is on the front of legal framework, prison conditions, police accountability and transparency or any other similar aspect, police reforms in India have been stagnant.

Some of these reforms pertain to infrastructure while others pertain to policy formulation and still others regarding brand and image making of police in India. While these reforms can be managed through political will yet one reform area that cannot be achieved through mere political will pertains to training of police force in technology related issues.

For instance, we do not have enough cyber crime investigation capabilities in India till now. Cyber crime investigation in India is still far from satisfactory and there are selective police officials who are aware of technological issues and technological laws like information technology act 2000 (IT Act 2000).

At Perry4Law and Perry4Law Techno Legal Base (PTLB) we have been working in the direction of removing these obstacles for the law enforcement officials of India. PTLB has been managing a techno legal ICT training centre for police force that intends to fill this void and make our police force techno legal in nature.

Perry4Law and PTLB suggest that police force of India must be well versed in areas like cyber law, cyber security attacks, cyber forensics, digital evidencing and e-discovery, video conferencing evidence, e-courts, etc.

Presently, these issues are not considered by police force of India. To start with police force must be made aware of the cyber law of India and its applicable provisions. Further, police in India also needs to learn how to investigate a cyber crime. Simple issues of cyber forensics like internet protocol address tracking and data recovery must also be learned by police force of India.

Indian government in general and ministry of home affairs in particular must pay special attention to these issues as ambitious projects like national intelligence grid (Natgrid), crime and criminal tracking network and systems (CCTNS), etc cannot be run successfully through an untrained police and intelligence force.

Cyber skill and intelligence gathering skills need to be developed in India as soon as possible. Perry4Law and PTLB hope that our suggestions would be considered by Indian government for the larger interest of all concerned.

Source: IIPS.

Cyber Crime Investigation Capabilities in India (2011)

India has a single law on cyber crimes. The cyber law of India is named as information technology act, 2000 (IT Act, 2000) and it is the sole cyber law of India. IT Act 2000 is also the sole law that deals with cyber crimes.

Cyber crimes in India have increased unchecked and dramatically partly due to the weak cyber law of India and partly due to poor cyber law knowledge among the police officers. This results in many cyber crimes remaining undetected and unsolved. Further, lawyers and judges are also not aware of cyber law of India and its fine details. This is the chief reason that in India we have very few cyber crime convictions.

Even on the front of cyber security India is not well situated. India is facing serious Cyber Threats and it needs good Techno Legal Skill Development Initiatives to have skilled manpower to meet such challenges, suggests Praveen Dalal, managing partner of New Delhi based law firm Perry4Law and CEO of Perry4Law Techno Legal Base (PTLB).

It seems India has also realised that in the absence of adequate skills it cannot meet the challenges to its internal security. This is the reason why public private partnership (PPP) has been proposed for even internal security matters of India. World renowned techno legal institutions like PTLB can greatly help Indian government in maters like cyber law, cyber security, telecom issues, cyber forensics, digital evidencing, e-courts, e-discovery, cyber crimes investigations, etc.

In fact, the first techno legal cyber crime investigation manual of India would be released shortly by PTLB. PTLB is also providing exclusive courses on techno legal cyber law skill development in India. There are other techno legal skill development courses as well that are provided by PTLB.

The cyber crime investigation capabilities of India need to be enhanced. Police officers, lawyers and judges must be given suitable techno legal training so that cyber criminals can be nabbed and punished. Even the cyber law of India need to be repealed and a new and strong cyber law must be enacted. The sooner this is done the better it would be for the larger interest of India.

Source: Cjnews India

E Courts 4 Justice (EC4J) Project By PTLB

Access to justice is essential for success of rule of law and timely and cost effective legal and judicial services. Keeping this in mind we at Perry4Law Techno Legal Base (PTLB) started the e-courts and online dispute resolution projects in the year 2004. It took us almost a decade to understand the fine details of both e-courts and ODR. Nevertheless, PTLB kept on working in these two crucial directions and other techno legal fields like cyber law, cyber security, cyber forensics, etc.

In 2014 we dedicated our resources and efforts to one of the sub projects under the e-courts category named ECourts4Justice (EC4J). Since then we are continuously developing the same so that it can benefit national and international stakeholders. After much ups and downs, this ECourts4Justice (EC4J) project has finally reached a functional stage.

ECourts4Justice (EC4J) is a result of a decade old expertise and hard working. We applied the concept of e-courts to an Interoperable Criminal Justice System (ICJS) and combined our techno legal expertise in fields like cyber law, cyber crimes investigation, cyber forensics, cyber security, etc. The net result is ECourts4Justice (EC4J) project that we are taking to the next level with this blog and other blogs and websites of PTLB.

We at PTLB believe that access to justice and justice for all is possible by productive use of information and communication technology (ICT). That is why we launched two ODR platforms for national and international stakeholders.

The first one is a Professional ODR Network where individuals, companies, governments, multi national companies, etc can  use our paid ODR services through the online portal. All the parties to the dispute need to do is to incorporate the ODR clause in their agreements while signing the same. Even if there is no such ODR clause in an agreement, there is a provision to use the same directly on the ODR portal if both the parties agree to the same.

The second online portal is part and parcel of our ODR Training Project where we have provided an online platform to national and international stakeholders to resolve their disputes free of cost. This pro bono services is provided under our Corporate Social Responsibility to ensure access to justice, justice for all and resilience for all.  All an individual or company has to do is to fill a ticket and we would do the rest.

To assist stakeholders in effective use of our ODR and E-Courts portals, we have been managing few dedicated Twitter handles. These are @ECourts4Justice, @RWLIndia, @ODRIndia, @TLCEODRI, etc.

We hope all stakeholders would be benefited by the ECourts4Justice (EC4J) and other projects of PTLB.