Resolve Without Litigation Your Disputes From Any Part Of The World

Disputes are not desirable but yet they do happen in every walk of the life. We have many options to resolve these disputes and approaching a  court is the last option. But for many people this is the first option and this is a wrong strategy on their part. By approaching the courts at the first place we are over burdening them unnecessarily when these disputes can be resolved outside the court. The over burderned courts  would have no choice but to give lengthy dates as there is no way a handful of judges in Indian courts can handle such impossible target.

This mindset is not a problem of ordinary people but our state governments and central government too. A big chunk of litigation in courts is  from government departments. State governments and central govt are notorious for not only denying remedies to citizens at the first place but they also keep on appealing against adverse orders against them to higher courts. So not only original cases but also appeals from the  adverse orders against state governments and central government are increasing burden upon Indian courts.

We at Perry4Law Techno Legal Base (PTLB) have been working in the fields like online dispute resolution (ODR) and e-courts since 2004. We have launched few techhno legal fields in both ODR and e-courts fields. We understand the significance of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) very well. We also understand how technology can be used to strengthen ADR in India by converting traditional ADR into ODR.

As the field is new, some sort of confusion and uncertainty is natural. That is why we launched two different online portals on ODR for world wide stakeholders. The first one is a pro bono platform where we are helping people to not only understand useage of ODR but also  helping them free of cost.

The second platform is a professional one where our clients and big companies can avail our techno legal services on a regular and professional basis. All they need to do is to use our ODR clause in their agreements. If both the parties agree, they can also use our ODR portal without any agreement if they agree to our ODR clause at any stage of the dispute. The process is simple and very effective.

Now comes the best part. Some of the unique features of our ODR portal are:

(1) Our ODR services are available throughout the world and even if parties to the dispute reside in different countries.

(2) It is not mandatory that the dispute must be an Indian dispute but any dispute in any part of the world can be resolved using our portal if the same can be resolved using mediation, conciliation, arbitration or ODR as per the laws of respective countries.

(3) Our ODR services can be used at any stage of the dispute even if there is no pre existing ODR clause. Such an ODR agreement can be formed by simply accepting our ODR clause by parties to the dispute.

(4) Parties to the dispute need not to move even out 0f their homes to avail our ODR services. So travelling expenses and travelling time is totally saved.

(5) All required documents can be shared with us through the online portal, secure e-mail, secured chats, etc. No cost for sending documents through post would be incurred.

(6) We are the only techno legal Institutionalised Arbitration Centre that is dealing in ODR world wide.

If any company or government department wishes to have training about how to best use our ODR services, we can also ensure the same.

If Indian government is serious about better access to justice and ensuring justice for all, we are more than happy to have a colloboration with it. We are also open to colloborations with foreign governments and international organisations if they have similar projects or wish to expand their existing dispute resolution capacities.

We may update this article with more information and details for the larger benefit of all. Please visit regularly this blog in general and our ODR portals in particular for latest developments of our projects.

E-Courts In India (2007)

The traditional legal system primarily relies upon litigation as a premier method of dispute resolution and the same equally applies to India as well. This dependence upon a single medium of dispute resolution has unnecessarily overburdened Indian courts. There are certain matters that can be effectively taken care of by “Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Mechanism” (ADRM). This ADRM consists of methods like Arbitration, Mediation, etc. These methods are not only effective but also economical and efficacious. They will go a long way in empowering people with right to speedy trial in India that is a Fundamental Right within the meaning of Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

With the advent of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) both the traditional legal system as well as the ADRM got empowerment and strength. As a natural corollary the tool of ADRM also got a transformed counterpart in the form of “Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) Mechanism (ODRM). The ultimate solution to the “backlog” problem in Indian courts is the optimum use of ODRM in India. The same may, however, face the jurisdictional issues arising within India as well as outside India. Although ODR in India has started gaining momentum yet there is lot to be done. If we analyse the culture of ADR in India then one fact is very clear. In India we have not yet given due importance to the ADRM, much less to ODRM. The e-governance plan of India is silent in this regard. This is one of the flaws of the ICT strategy of India that is not in conformity with the contemporary standards. The e-governance in India is not taking care of the ODR perspective and the same will be a fatal mistake by all counts. We do not have a base for Intellectual Property Rights and International Trade related disputes. Even the domain name dispute resolution in India is missing. Similarly, International Commercial Arbitration in India also needs a different outlook in the present circumstances. We need to capatilise “collective expertise” and an “ideal public-private partnership” base in India. The launch of PTLB as the premier authority for ADR and ODR in India would go a long way in transforming ADR into ODR in India. The initiative titled ICT HELPDESK and WTO will cover the International Trade segment. If India has to survive the increasing dispute resolution pressure then it must cover the journey from ADR to ODR as soon as possible.

Similarly, efforts must be undertaken for the establishment of electronic courts in India. The establishments of digital evidencing and techno-legal base[1] are absolute requirements in India. There is also a dire need of judicial reforms in India keeping in mind the requirements of ICT. The establishment of e-courts in India would be a good step in this direction. These mandates have been sufficiently indicated and suggested in the annual evaluation of Perry4Law titled ICT trends in India in 2006. We have to take care of both technological as well as legal issues associated with the use of ICT. Thus, a techno-legal base is the need of the hour. We have launched the first ever Techno-Legal Base in India that is known as Perry4Law’s Techno-Legal Base TM/SM * (PTLB TM/SM*). PTLB TM/SM* and ICT HELPDESK TM/SM* are coordinating various International and National initiatives that primarily rely upon ICT for their successful operation and existence. PTLB TM/SM* would develop and implement an Inter-Country teaching and research infrastructure in the legal field that would be capable of meeting the challenges posed by the ICT regime. It would try to improve the current legal education practices by adapting them as per the ICT mandates.[2]

The Government must change gears now as the speed of reforms is grossly inadequate. It is high time that the Government must establish a specialised institution as per the requirements of UNDP and European Union so that foreign aid and grants can be utilised appropriately and legally. We must have a suitable e-infrastructure that is capable of meeting the needs of contemporary society. Perry4Law’s famous Techno-Legal and ICT Segment PTLB TM/SM* will provide Techno-Legal and ICT service pertaining to Cyber Law, Cyber Forensics Cyber Security, Techno-Legal E-learning Services, Due Diligence Compliance, Techno-Legal Audit, E-commerce, E-governance, ADR and ODR, IPRs, International Trade etc. We would also provide a “legislative framework” that could be effective for meeting the requirements of e-courts in India and an ODR base in India. In fact Perry4Law is receiving tons of appreciation letters and requests for extending its Techno-Legal and ICT related expertise for the establishment of e-courts in foreign countries.[3] We hope that our initiatives would prove effective for providing a Techno-legal direction to Indian ICT strategy. Some of the International and National initiatives, collaborations and coordinating efforts of Perry4Law, PTLB TM/SM* and ICT HELPDESK TM/SM are as follow:

(a) E-governance and justice in India
(b) Online Dispute Resolution in India
(c) Judicial reforms in India through use of ICT
(d) Enforcing rule of justice through e-governance
(e) Dataquest-Changing the order
(f) E-judiciary and e-lawyering in India, etc.

Let us hope that the initiatives of e-judiciary segment in general and Perry4Law in particular would prove a good step in the right direction and that also at a time when we need it most.

[1] http://perry4law.blogspot.com/2006/06/need-of-techno-legal-compliance-in.html
[2] Praveen Dalal, “ Techno-Legal Education in India”, http://cyberlawindia.blogspot.com/2006/12/techno-legal-education-in-india.html
[3] One of the e-mails to Perry4Law reads like this “Recently, Brazilian congress has approved a law which adopts the use of ICT in judicial acts. This new law is very advanced and wishes to replace physical process for a total virtual one. I have many doubts about it and I really would like to share your ideas and to understand how India is adopting this technology for judicial purposes”.

Source: Electronic Courts In India.

Electronic Governance And Justice In India (2006)

The aim of this article is to analyse the use of information technology by the Apex Court for the purposes of delivering justice in its true and practical perspective. A special reference of the Information Technology Act, 2000 has been made to provide an insight of the possible uses of e-governance for a sound justice delivery system.

I. IntroductionThe World Bank defines e-governance as the use of information and communication technologies by government agencies to transform relations with citizens, business world and other arms of the government. Ever since the creation of Ministry of Information Technology in the Union Government, State and union Territories expressed commitment for providing effective, responsive and transparent citizen governance through the use of Information Technology. E-governance is used as a synonym for an Information Technology driven system of governance that works better, costs less and is capable of servicing people’s needs. It is also broadly defined as the use of Information Technology for efficient delivery of Government services to the people, business world and industry. The term e-governance involves the computerization and networking of all government departments and linking each district and taluka, with the State headquarters. The objective of e-governance in India goes beyond mere computerization of government offices. It fundamentally means changing the way the government operates and implies a new set of responsibilities for civil servants, business world and the public. Plans such as online services will give an average citizen access to Government services, with faster responses at more convenient hours. These services include providing information, collecting taxes, granting licenses, administering regulations and paying grants and benefits. The aim of e-governance is to eliminate middlemen and corruption. Once people know that information could not be monopolized, they would demand access to it[1].II. E-Governance And The Justice Delivery System

The first duty of a court is to do justice. If the “rule of law” has been declared to be a “basic feature” of the Constitution, which cannot be taken away even by exercising the constitutional power of amendment, then “rule of justice” is definitely above it and deserves the status of the basic feature of the constitution. This is so because the concept of justice is wider and is of greater importance than the rule of law because:

(1) The express incorporation of Article 142 in the Constitution of India assures this guarantee. The Supreme Court in exercise of its jurisdiction can pass such decree or make such order as is necessary “for doing complete justice” in any cause or matter pending before it. For instance, the Supreme Court can extend the benefit of its judgment to a case not in appeal[2]. In D.D.A v Skipper Construction Co (P) Ltd[3] the Supreme Court observed that it is advisable to leave this power undefined and uncatalogued, so that it remains elastic enough, to be moulded to suit the given situation.

(2) There may not be any law governing any particular situation, but the justice may require taking of an immediate and inevitable action.

(3) There may be a law, which does not satisfy the present demands and requirements of the society at large.

(4) The mandates of morality require taking of an action, which is normally not taken.

(5) The concept of justice, equity and good conscience may be applicable in a given situation where the law has left a vacuum or is not addressing the problem in hand in an appropriate manner.

Thus, the courts in India to do complete justice invoke the concept of “rule of justice”. This does not mean that one can ignore the concept of rule of law. It must be appreciated that both rule of law and rule of justice must go hand in hand to make the justice system just, fair and reasonable. In today’s world we cannot afford to say that “justice must not only be done but it must also be seemed to be done”. The concept of justice requires that:

(1) it must firstly be done in a just, fair and reasonable manner,
(2) it must be seemed to be done, and
(3) it must be “felt” to be done.Thus, unless this third element of “felt to be done” is satisfied, the concept of justice is not complete because this third element is the most important component of justice delivery system. The public at large in India has a great faith in Indian judiciary and this third element is absolutely essential to maintain and preserve that faith and confidence. A court of law cannot render justice unless the ultimate decision is based on the contemporary law as prevailing in the society. A decision based on an old law, which does not satisfy the requirements of the present situation, and environment should be avoided. In such a situation the efforts of the courts should be to give the law a “purposive, updating and an ongoing interpretation”. This position makes the interface of justice delivery system with the information technology inevitable and unavoidable. We cannot allow the dead hand of the past to stifle the growth of the living present. Law cannot stand still; it must change with the changing social concepts and values. If the bark that protects the tree fails to grow and expand along with the tree, it will either choke the tree or if it is a living tree, it will shed that bark and grow a new living bark for itself. Similarly, if the law fails to respond to the needs of changing society, then either it will stifle the growth of the society and choke its progress or if the society is vigorous enough, it will cast away the law, which stands in the way of its growth. Law must therefore constantly keep on adapting itself to the fast changing society and not lag behind[4]. Justice is supreme and justice ought to be beneficial for the society so that the society is placed in a better-off situation. Law courts exist for the society and ought to rise up to the occasion to do the needful in the matter, and as such ought to act in a manner so as to sub serve the basic requirement of the society. It is a requirement of the society and the law must respond to its need. The greatest virtue of the law is its flexibility and its adaptability; it must change from time to time so that it answers the cry of the people, the need of the hour and the order of the day. Thus, the justice delivery system cannot afford to take the information technology revolution lightly.

III. Legislative Efforts To Bring Technology Revolution

To meet the challenges posed by the information technology, the Parliament has enacted the Information Technology Act, 2000. The aim of the Act is to provide a sound base for e-governance and e-commerce. It must be noted that the e-governance base can be effectively utilized for maintaining a sound justice delivery system. The various requirements, which are inevitable for the smooth functioning of the justice system, are adequately, economically and safely taken care of by the e-governance. For instance, electronic records are legally recognised, digital signatures have been given the status of signature in writing, a notification in electronic gazette is considered to be a valid notification, etc. The following provisions of the Act reflect India’s determination to utilize the benefits of e-governance for judicial purposes:

(1) Legal Recognition Of E-Records – Section 4 provides that where any law requires that information or any other matter shall be in writing or type written or in printed form. Such requirement shall be deemed to have been satisfied if such information or matter is rendered or made available in an e-form and accessible so as to be usable for a subsequent reference. The term e-record means data, record or data generated, image or sound stored, received or sent in an e-form or microfilm or computer generated microfiche[5]. The term e-form, with reference to information, means any information generated, sent, received or stored in media, magnetic, optical, computer memory, microfilm, computer generated microfiche or similar device[6]. Thus as an alternative to paper based record, e-record has been recognised as a medium of communication and storage of information. Further, if an e-record is authenticated by digital signature, it can be produced as evidence for the inspection of the courts. This arrangement is definitely hassle free and more transparent as compared to traditional methods of record keeping. Further, it is not prone to tampering unlike paper-based record, which is difficult to maintain and has its own limitations.

(2) Legal Recognition Of Digital Signatures- Section 5 of the Act mandates that if any information or any other matter is required by law to be authenticated by affixing the signature, then such requirement shall be deemed to have been satisfied if such information or matter is authenticated by means of digital signature affixed in the prescribed manner. The type of digital signature that shall be used to authenticate an e-record shall be as per the rules that may be framed by the Central Government. The rule may prescribe the manner or procedure to facilitate identification of the person affixing the digital signature. It may also prescribe the safeguards to ensure integrity, authenticity and confidentiality of e-records. Further the rule may provide any other matter, which is necessary to give legal effect to digital signatures[7].

(3) Use In Government And Its Agencies- Section 6 of the Act recognises use of e-records and digital signatures in government and its agencies for filing, issue, grant, receipt or payment of money as an acceptable mode. The Central Government as well as the State Governments is empowered to prescribe the manner and format in which the e-records shall be filed, created, retained or issued. They may prescribe the manner or method of payment of any fee or charges for filing, creation or issue of any e-record.

(4) Retention Of E-Records- Section 7 is an enabling section, which provides that if any law mandates that documents, records or information are required to be retained for any specific period, then, that requirement shall be deemed to have been satisfied if the same is retained in e-form.

(5) Electronic-Gazette- Publication of official gazette in e-form is permitted by Sec.8 of the act. Accordingly, where any law requires publication of rule, regulation, order, byelaw, notification or other matter in the gazette, publication thereof in e-form is permitted. If such publication is made in the e-form, the requirement of publication in the official gazette is deemed to have been fulfilled. When an official gazette is published in printed form as well as electronic gazette, the date of publication shall be the date on which the gazette was first published in any form.

(6) Non-Absolute Right- The provisions of Sec.9 mandates that e-governance, as envisaged in the Information Technology Act, does not confer a right upon any person to insist any Ministry or Department of the Central or State Government or any authority or body to accept, issue, create, retain or preserve any document in the form of e-records or to participate in any monetary transaction in the e-form. Thus, sufficient safeguards have been taken to establish a proper and timely e-governance base.

(7) Possible Uses Of E-Governance- The future of e-governance is very bright. With the help of information technology, the daily matters can be effectively taken care of irrespective of the field covered by it. For instance, the Delhi Police Headquarter has launched a website, which can be used for lodging a First Information Report. Similarly, the Patna High Court has taken a bold step of granting bail on the basis of an online bail application. The educational institutions, including universities, are issuing admission forms electronically, which can be downloaded from their respective websites. The results of examinations of various educational institutions, both school level and university level, are available online, which can be obtained without any trouble. These are but some of the instances of the use of technology for a better e-governance.

The beneficial concept of e-governance can be utilized for the following purposes:

(1) To have access to public documents.

(2) For making online payments of various bills and dues.

(3) To file statutory documents online[8].

(4) To file the complaints, grievances and suggestions of citizens online.

(5) The online facility can be used to enter into a partnership the appropriate government in cases of government contracts.

(6) The citizens can use the online facility to file their income tax returns[9].

(7) The citizens will enjoy the facility of online services.

(8) The various departments of the government can be computerized and centralized and the responsibility for its proper maintenance can be fixed on an agency like National Informatics Centre.

It must be noted that to give effect to these provisions appropriate amendments have been made in the I.P.C, 1860, the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, the Bankers’ Books Evidence Act, 1891 and the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934.These amendments have made these statutes compatible with the “e-justice system”.

IV. Judicial Reception Of information Technology

The judicial response vis-à-vis information technology is positive and technology friendly.

In M/S SIL Import, USA v M/S Exim Aides Silk Exporters[10] the words “notice in writing”, in Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, were construed to include a notice by fax. The Supreme Court observed: “A notice envisaged u/s 138 can be sent by fax. Nowhere is it said that such notice must be sent by registered post or that it should be dispatched through a messenger. Chapter XVII of the Act, containing sections 138 to 142 was inserted in the Act as per Banking Public Financial Institution and Negotiable Instruments Laws (Amendment) Act, 1988.Technologiacl advancements like Fax, Internet, E-mail, etc were on swift progress even before the Bill for the Amendment Act was discussed by the Parliament. When the legislature contemplated that notice in writing should be given to the drawer of the cheque, the legislature must be presumed to have been aware of the modern devices and equipments already in vogue and also in store for future. If the court were to interpret the words “giving notice in writing” in the section as restricted to the customary mode of sending notice through postal service or even by personal delivery, the interpretative process will fail to cope up with the change of time. So if the notice envisaged in clause (b) of the proviso to section 138 was transmitted by Fax, it would be compliance with the legal requirement”.

Thus the requirement of a written notice will be satisfied if the same is given in the form of a fax, e-mail etc, using the information technology. It must be noted that a notice by e-mail can be send instantaneously and its delivery is assured and acknowledged by a report showing the due delivery of the same to the recipient. This method is more safe, accurate, economical and lesser time consuming as compared to its traditional counterpart, popularly known as “Registered A.D”.

In Basavaraj R. Patil v State of Karnataka[11] the question was whether an accused need to be physically present in court to answer the questions put to him by the court whilst recording his statement under section 313. The majority held that the section had to be considered in the light of the revolutionary changes in technology of communication and transmission and the marked improvement in the facilities of legal aid in the country. It was held that it was not necessary that in all cases the accused must answer by personally remaining present in the court. Once again, the importance of information technology is apparent. If a person residing in a remote area of South India is required to appear in the court for giving evidence, then he should not be called from that place, instead the medium of “video conferencing” should be used. In that case the requirements of justice are practically harmonised with the ease and comfort of the witnesses, which can drastically improve the justice delivery system.

In State of Maharashtra v Dr.Praful.B.Desai[12] the Supreme Court observed: “The evidence can be both oral and documentary and electronic records can be produced as evidence. This means that evidence, even in criminal matters, can also be by way of electronic records. This would include video conferencing. Video conferencing is an advancement in science and technology which permits one to see, hear and talk with someone far away, with the same facility and ease as if he is present before you i.e. in your presence. Thus, it is clear that so long as the accused and/or his pleader are present when evidence is recorded by video conferencing that evidence is recorded in the “presence” of the accused and would thus fully meet the requirements of section 273, Criminal Procedure Code. Recording of such evidence would be as per “procedure established by law”. The advancement of science and technology is such that now it is possible to set up video conferencing equipments in the court itself. In that case evidence would be recorded by the magistrate or under his dictation in the open court. To this method there is however a drawback. As the witness is not in the court there may be difficulties if commits contempt of court or perjures himself. Therefore as a matter of prudence evidence by video conferencing in open court should be only if the witness is in a country which has an extradition treaty with India and under whose laws contempt of court and perjury are also punishable”.

This judgment of the Supreme Court is a landmark judgment as it has the potential to seek help of those witnesses who are crucial for rendering the complete justice but who cannot come due to “territorial distances” or even due to fear, expenses, old age, etc. The Courts in India have the power to maintain anonymity of the witnesses to protect them from threats and harm and the use of information technology is the safest bet for the same. The testimony of a witness can be recorded electronically the access to which can be legitimately and lawfully denied by the Courts to meet the ends of justice.

Once again the safety of victims and the witnesses through the use of information technology was recognised by the Supreme Court in Sakshi v U.O.I[13]. The Supreme Court in this case observed: ” The whole inquiry before a court being to elicit the truth, it is absolutely necessary that the victim or the witnesses are able to depose about the entire incident in a free atmosphere without any embarrassment. Section 273 Cr.P.C merely requires the evidence to be taken in the presence of the accused. The section, however, does not say that the evidence should be recorded in such a manner that the accused should have full view of the victim or the witnesses. Recording of evidence by video conferencing has already been upheld. Moreover, there is a major difference between substantive provisions defining crimes and providing punishment for the same and procedural enactment laying down the procedure of trial of such offences. Rules of procedure are handmaiden of justice and are meant to advance and not to obstruct the cause of justice. It is, therefore, permissible for the court to expand or enlarge the meanings of such provisions in order to elicit the truth and do justice with the parties. Thus, in holding trial of child sex abuse or rape a screen or some arrangements may be made where the victim or witness (who may be equally vulnerable like the victim) do not see the body or face of the accused. Recording of evidence by way of video conferencing vis-à-vis Section 273 Cr.P.C is permissible”.

The above discussion shows that the judiciary in India is not only aware of the advantages of information technology but is actively and positively using it in the administration of justice, particularly the criminal justice.

V. Conclusion

The advent of information technology has changed the mode of working of almost all the spheres of the life. The justice delivery system has also been benefited by this technological revolution. It must be noted that one of the cardinal rule of interpretation is that the Parliament intends the Courts to apply an ongoing Act a construction that continuously updates its wordings to allow for changes since the Act was initially framed. An enactment of the former days is thus to be read today, in the light of the dynamic processing received over the years. The Constitution is organic and living in nature. It is also well settled that the interpretation of the Constitution of India or statutes would change from time to time. Being a living organ, it is ongoing and with passage of time, law must change. New rights may have to be found out within the constitutional scheme. It is established that fundamental rights themselves have no fixed content; most of them are empty vessels into which each generation must pour its contents in the light of its experience. The attempt of the court should be to expand the reach and ambit of the fundamental rights by process of judicial interpretation. There cannot be any distinction between the fundamental rights mentioned in Chapter III of the Constitution and the declaration of such rights on the basis of the judgments rendered by the Supreme Court[14]. This valuable and golden rule of interpretation has been properly appreciated and adequately applied by the Indian judiciary in the context of information technology. Thus, it can be safely concluded that the “E-justice system” has found its existence in India.

End Notes

[1] Anupama Katakam; ‘Information Technology: Towards E-Governance’, The Frontline 78, 10th December 1999.
[2] Manganese Ore v Chande, AIR 1991 SC 520.
[3] AIR 1996 SC 2005.
[4] Justice Bhagwati in National Textile Worker’s Union v P.R.Ramakrishnan, (1983) 1 SCC 228, at p. 256.
[5] Sec.2 (1) (t) of IT Act, 2000
[6] Sec.2 (1) (r) of IT Act, 2000
[7] Sec.10 of IT Act, 2000
[8] Recently the SEBI has allowed filing of specified documents online by the listed companies vide, SMD/Policy/Cir-17/02 dated 3rd July 2002.
[9] Assessment year 2002-03, the bulk filing of returns of the employees by the employer on computer readable medium has been recognised by Sec.139 (1A) of the Income Tax Act.1961.
[10] AIR 1999 SC 1609.
[11] (2000) 8 SCC 740.
[12] 2003 (3) SCALE 554.
[13] (2004) 5 SCC 519.
[14] P.U.C.L v U.O.I, (2003) (3) SCALE 263.

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.