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.

Reconstruction Of Records, E-Courts And Right To Fair Trial In India (2013)

There are circumstances where the records of police and judicial authorities may go missing or are destroyed beyond redemption. In such a case, proceeding with the concerned court case is next to impossible.

If the records of the proceedings are destroyed due to natural calamities and their reconstruction is not possible, then the court has no other option but to acquit the accused.

The traditional record keeping has this serious drawback that is absent when we adopt information and communication technology (ICT). For instance, if electronic records are maintained, the reconstruction of lost or destroyed records is just a click away.

Establishment of e-courts in India is of prime importance in the present ICT driven era. However, till the month of March 2013 we are still waiting for the establishment of first e-court of India. Digital preservation in India is also not in good shape.

If a guilty person is acquitted due to inability to reconstruct the records or an innocent is convicted due to defective reconstruction of records, this would amount to miscarriage of justice and violation of right to fair trial. Therefore, proper reconstruction of records is of utmost importance.

In a latest case in this regard, a Division Bench of Delhi High Court, comprising of Chief Justice D Murugesan and Justice VK Jain, has directed a District and Sessions Judge to “reconstruct” within two weeks the records pertaining to a 20-year-old rape case, in which judicial and police files went missing. The bench also directed for appropriate action against the officers responsible for missing of the files.

The bench further ordered for setting up a committee to examine the practices and systems prevailing in the matters of custody and maintenance of court records. At Perry4Law and Perry4Law’s Techno Legal Base (PTLB) we welcome this move of the Delhi High Court as it is progressive in nature and justice oriented.

We also feel that an electronic record is not only durable but can be easily stored as well. It must be noted that in majority of cases the witnesses do not come forward to give evidence and many important pieces of evidences are lost forever. This results in acquittal of the accused and a miscarriage of justice.

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.

E-Courts In India (2009)

E-Courts in India is a much needed initiative. It has, however, always remained an unfulfilled dream. The reason being that there is a dearth of Techno-Legal expertise in India and e-courts cannot be established in India till we have that expertise.

In a welcome step, the Delhi High Court has decided to establish the first e-court of India. The same would be operational by December 8, 2009 in the court of Justice S Ravindra Bhat.

It intends to provide SMS alerts about court hearings to advocates and litigants, summons sent through emails, e-stamps instead of stamp paper, recording of evidence through video-conferencing, virtual tour of court premises, etc.

Being in the initial phase, other crucial aspects of e-courts would be taken up in the due course of time.

Praveen Dalal, Managing Partner of Perry4Law and the leading Techno-Legal Expert of India has welcomed this step of Delhi High Court. He maintains that this was the most needed action on the part of Indian Judiciary to bring speedier justice at the doorsteps of the litigants.

He, however, said that establishment of e-court would require tremendous domain specific techno-legal expertise and in the absence of the same e-courts project is bound to fail.

Only time would tell whether this initiative of Delhi High Court would ultimately succeed or it would prove to be just another press release without actual e-court capabilities.

The moment e-filing, presentation, contest and adjudication of the cases would start, India would surely be capable of establishing e-courts. In the absence of these capabilities, we have to wait for few more years to get speedier justice in India.

Source: Ground Report.

Online Legal Case Management System (OLCMS) Of Perry4Law Organisation (P4LO) (2014)

India has adopted the technology driven projects like Digital India and Internet of Things (IoT) (PDF). The aim of these projects is to use technology for providing better government services to citizens and residents of India. Areas like Healthcare, Education, Judicial services etc would be covered by these projects.

As far as Judicial services are concerned, India is already working in the direction of establishment of e-courts in India. However, till the month of December 2014 we are still waiting for the establishment of first e-court of India. Similarly, use of online dispute resolution (ODR) in India is also missing as on date.

Perry4Law Organisation and its techno legal segments like Perry4Law’s Techno Legal Base (PTLB), Perry4Law Techno Legal ICT Training Centre (PTLITC) and Perry4Law Law Firm have been managing many techno legal initiatives. These include establishment and maintenance of full fledged e-courts and ODR systems and their corresponding online skills development and training requirements.

We have taken our initiative at the next level of development and implementation. For instance, we have been experimenting with the open source tools and software in the fields of e-courts and ODR. We have launched a discussion forum titled Online Dispute Resolution Mechanism (ODRM) of Perry4Law Organisation (P4LO) that would act as an information and participation portal for ODR purposes in India and abroad. Similarly, an Online Case Management System (OCMS) of Perry4Law Organisation (P4LO) has also been explored to see possibilities in the ODR field.

Regarding e-courts as well we have launched an initiative titled Online Legal Case Management System (OLCMS) of Perry4Law Organisation (P4LO). It is intended to be a world scale project that would cater the needs and requirements of both national and international stakeholders. OLCMS of P4LO for E-Courts in India and worldwide is also unique in the sense that it is first techno legal initiative of its type in India and worldwide.

OLCMS of P4LO for E-Courts is not the end product but is the starting point of a much larger techno legal initiative in the field of global e-courts services by Perry4Law Organisation. We intend to use our e-courts projects to ensure access to justice for marginalised people in India and other jurisdictions. Dedicated websites have been launched by us to use E-Courts 4 Justice (EC4J) at global scale. Interested stakeholders can know more about us at various social media platforms like EC4J.

We would come up with more details about the EC4J and OLCMS projects of Perry4Law Organisation in our subsequent post. Please bookmark this blog for updates in this regard if you are interested in these projects of P4LO.

Source: OLCMS.

ICT Trends in India 2006 By Praveen Dalal (2006)

In furtherance of our “Corporate Social Responsibility” the Law Firm Perry4Law would provide a regular and annual analysis of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) trends in India. The Law Firm Perry4Law is the First and Exclusive Techno-Legal Firm in India and is managing Perry4Law’s Techno-Legal Base TM/SM * (PTLB TM/SM*) and ICT HELPDESK TM/SM*. PTLB TM/SM* and ICT HELPDESK TM/SM* are coordinating and collaborating International and National initiatives that primarily rely upon ICT for their successful operation and existence. PTLB TM/SM* will provide service pertaining to Cyber Law, Cyber Forensics Cyber Security, Techno-Legal E-learning Services, Due Diligence Compliance Audit, E-commerce, E-governance, ADR and ODR, IPRs, International Trade etc. This is the first trend analysis of Perry4Law.

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is changing the face of contemporary World. The ICT has not only connected the World at one single platform but it is also helping in the integration of various traditional societiesinto modern societies. The mandates of globalisation also require an interaction between Indian economy and World’s economy. Globalisation is closely related to ICT and the ICT strategy of a nation is very crucial to put it on a global map. The ICT strategy in India must be techno-legal in nature rather than purely legal or purely technological. Unfortunately, Indian ICT Strategy is not upto the mark and the same is further degraded with the introduction of the proposed amendments to the IT Act, 2000 (if the original recommendations have been accepted as it is). The concepts of cyber forensics in India, cyber security in India, computer security in India, etc have not yet got the attention of the Indian Parliament.

Though India is emerging as a leader in the field of ICT related services yet there seems to be some missing links. They pertain to the following:

(a) The requirement of paying attention to e-security in India that covers cyber forensics, computer and cyber security, etc.

(b) The cyber law in India also imposes certain restrictions and their violations may take the form of offences and contraventions. Cyber crimes in India are taken care of by the Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act, 2000) that also mandates adherence to certain compliance requirements. These aspects must be kept in mind by Companies, Individual and even by the Government.

(c) The establishment of digital evidencing base is an absolute requirement in India. The same is missing for the time being.

(d) There is also a dire need of judicial reforms in India keeping in mind the requirements of ICT.

(e) The establishment of electronic courts in India would be a good step towards implementing the judicial reforms in India in an effective manner.

(f) The electronic era has its own challenges that must be tackled effectively.

(g) The introduction of wireless technology in India would require its own security requirements. Thus, the wireless security in India must be considered on a priority basis.

(h) There are legal risks of electronic commerce as well that also cannot be ignored.

(i) The internet banking in India must also be developed so that a sound e-commerce platform can be established in India.

(j) At the same time the ICT strategy in India must be “reformulated” so that it is conducive for the overall development of Indian economy.

(k) E-learning in India must be used for techno-legal educational purposes in India.

(l) We also need Techno-Legal education in India to cater the need of legal KPO and legal BPO.

(m) The proposed amendments of the cyber law of India, i.e. IT Act, 2000 must be made public and transparent. The IT Act, 2000 must be amended properly and the proposed amendments to the IT Act, 2000, as originally suggested by the Expert Committee, must be rejected at all costs. If some changes have been made in the original recommendations of the Expert Committee, they must be discussed with various segments associated with the cyber law of India.

(n) We must appreciate that e-governance without security is useless.

Nothing short of a techno-legal compliance can provide a viable solution for these missing links. We need initiatives on the lines of PTLB TM/SM . It is apparent that the missing links pertain to securing the ICT infrastructure and cyberspace. It may take the form of on-site security measure or private defence in Cyberspace. This becomes essential to tackle the menace of cyber crimes and cyber terrorism. The preventive measures for ATM Frauds also have their origin in e-security.

Even the legal BPO in India requires a sound base.

The existing deficiencies of the ICT Strategy of India must be removed. The missing links must be put in the chain of ICT so that we can utilise its benefit to maximum extent. Every base requires time, money, energy and resources so that it may mature and suit the requirements. If we consider the “futuristic aspect” of the present cyber law in India that it is clear that this is the high time that we must establish a base. We may face many difficulties but than we will face them in any case. We need to capatilise “collective expertise” and an “ideal public-private partnership” base in India. Even the proposed laws like Broadcasting Bill-06 have certain deficiencies and they must be removed while enacting the ultimate law in this regard.

Source: UNPAN And UN.

Background Information: This article was picked up by UNPAN in 2006 from http://perry4law.blogspot.com/. Another Blog Of Perry4Law Organisation (P4LO) is http://legalsolutionsindia.blogspot.com/2006/12/cyber-law-in-india.html that has also been cited in this articles that was operational in 2004 but now is restricted and is not available for public view. Other restricted Blogs include among others:

(1) http://perry4law.blogspot.com/,

(2) http://legalsolutionsindia.blogspot.com/,

(3) http://cyberforensicsinindia.blogspot.com/,

(4) http://cyberlawindia.blogspot.com/,

(5) http://indian-judiciary.blogspot.com/, etc.

In 2006, E-Courts Project was shifted to Perry4Law.Com website and these Blogs were restricted for public view. In 2008, PTLB.In and Perry4Law.Org websites were launched to strengthen ODR and E-Courts Projects. In 2012, ElectronicCourts.In was launched for specific requirements of E-Courts of India and E-Courts 4 Justice (EC4J) Project was launched in 2014 as part of these E-Courts Projects of P4LO that were in operation since 2004.

E-Courts In India Must Be Expedited (2011)

Pendencies of cases in Indian courts are normal phenomenon these days. Delay in resolution of disputes adversely affects the confidence of business community and international investors. While traditional litigation system of India cannot be reformed overnight yet effective steps in this direction must be urgently taken.

Technology can be a viable option for resolving judicial problems in India. For instance online dispute resolution (ODR) mechanism can be effectively used to resolve many disputes in an online environment. Similarly, e-courts in India can be established to reduce corruption and irregularities of Indian judicial system.

There is no second opinion that e-courts in India needed. However, establishment of e-courts in India is still a dream as e-courts project of India has failed to provide the necessary impetus in this regard. There are many reasons why e-courts in India failed to take off. The chief among them is the absence of necessary expertise to manage and implement e-courts project of India.

For instance, we have a single techno legal e-courts training and consultancy centre in India. It is managed by Perry4Law Techno Legal Base (PTLB). We need more such specialised institutions to successfully manage the e-courts project of India.

Recently on the occasion of Law Day, Union law minister Salman Khurshid shared his desire for making court proceedings paperless. He asked whether Indian Supreme Court can be paperless. Citing the example of Brazil he stressed that India needs to move in that direction as well.

The idea is good provided India has necessary expertise and will to implement the e-court project of India. Presently that seems to be missing and this make the paperless court a distant dream in India.

Source: IIPS.