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.

Validity Of Electronic Legal Notices And Processes In India Through E-Mails (2013)

At Perry4Law we receive numerous legal queries regarding legality of sending and receiving of a legal notice through electronic mail (E-Mail) or other electronic mediums. In order to spread public awareness in this regard, we are providing the legal position as applicable in India.

The Information Technology Act, 2000 recognises sending of electronic records for various purposes, including legal notices, if certain conditions are satisfied. Both Supreme Court of India and the Delhi High Court have already prescribed guidelines in this regard.

A Three Judge Bench of Supreme Court of India in Central Electricity Regulatory Commission v. National Hydroelectric Power Corporation Ltd, Civil Appeal No. (D.21216/2010), (2010) 10 SCC 280 observed that in various Courts, the statistical data indicates that, on account of delay in process serving, arrears keep on mounting. In Delhi itself, the input indicates that fifty per cent of the arrears in Courts particularly in commercial cases is on account of delay in process serving.

For the above reasons, the following directions, as mentioned hereinbelow, are given:

(i) In addition to normal mode of service, service of Notice(s) may be effected by E-Mail for which the advocate(s) on-record will, at the time of filing of petition/appeal, furnish to the filing counter a soft copy of the entire petition/appeal in PDF format;

(ii) The advocate(s) on-record shall also simultaneously submit E-Mail addresses of the respondent(s) Companies/Corporation(s) to the filing counter of the Registry. This will be in addition to the hard copy of the petition/appeal;

(iii) If the Court issues notice, then, in that event alone, the Registry will send such an additional notice at the E-Mail addresses of the respondent(s) Companies/Corporation(s) via E-Mail;

(iv) The Registry will also send Notice at the E-Mail address of the advocate(s) for respondent(s) Companies/Corporation(s), who have filed caveat. Advocate(s) on-record filing caveat shall provide his/her E-Mail address for effecting service; and

(v) Within two weeks from today, Cabinet Secretariat shall also provide centralized E-Mail addresses of various Ministries/Departments/ Regulatory Authorities along with the names of the Nodal Officers, if already appointed, for the purposes of service.

The above facility is being extended in addition to the modes of service mentioned in the existing Supreme Court Rules. This facility, for the time being, is extended to commercial litigation and to those cases where the advocate(s) on-record seeks urgent interim reliefs.

The Delhi High Court, in exercise of powers under Part X of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908) and Order V, Rule 9 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 and all other powers enabling it in this behalf, has also made Rules regarding service of legal notices through E-Mail. These rules allow service of legal notices and processes through E-Mails if the conditions prescribed therein are duly complied with.

Similarly, A Division Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Sanjiv Khanna has ensured early release of undertrials and accused who are granted bail by directing all Delhi courts as well as its own officials to e-mail a copy of bail orders to Tihar jail authorities within 24 hours of being pronounced.

The Supreme Court of India and the Delhi High Court are also working in the direction of establishment of E-Courts in India as soon as possible. Presently, computerisation work has been finished to a greater extent and we may witness the e-filing facility as well in the near future. Once linked to the National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG), a proper e-court infrastructure can be established in India.

So those who believe that legal notices or legal processes cannot be sent through e-mail must think again as the necessary legal and judicial framework in this regard already exists in India.

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 In India Still A Distant Dream (2012)

NEW DELHI, INDIA: The Indian judicial system yearns for reform. As ICT promises virtual courts for speedy delivery of justice, ironically, the pace of law ministry’s pet project is considerably too slow.

Blame it on government’s apathy or lackluster judicial system, the electronic delivery of justice has perhaps lost sheen. Nine years passed by from the first announcement, but it’s yet to translate into ground reality.

As there are as many as 30 million cases pending in different courts throughout India, it may require more than 400 years to dispose them going by the current judicial strength. That makes the ICT-driven justice imperative.

The law ministry may laud digitalization process and cause lists availability on Web servers of more than 20 high courts, but the full-fledged program has a long way to go. In Delhi, only two courts have been digitalized which are yet to get e-court status.

Justice Altamas Kabir of top court believes that they have a vision, but e-courts in India are yet to become a reality. With e-filing as one of its constituents, he feels, there will be no need for litigants to be physically present.

To be powered with ICT-driven infrastructure, the e-courts envisage demystification of the adjudicatory processes. The e-trials, however, would not just include e-filing but electronic delivery of comprehensive set of judicial activities.

A noted techno-legal expert, senior Supreme Court counsellor and managing partner at Perry4Law firm Praveen Dalal opines that it’s imperative to establish e-courts in India soon. “The first indication of e-courts in India was given in 2003,” he said.

Till now, Dalal said, not even a single e-court has been established in any state. “Lack of techno-legal expertise is the main reason for the current scenario,” he said. Further, Dalal believes that governmental and judicial resolve to establish e-courts in India is also missing.

Source: CIOL.

E-Court Launched In Orissa (2011)

To computerize the justice delivery system, the Central Government is implementing e-Courts for the District and Subordinate Courts with upgradation of IT at a cost of Rs 935 crore.

By CXOtoday Staff

Under the e-Courts programme of National e-Governance Programme (NeGP), Cuttack District court in Orissa has become the first ICT enabled district court. Chief Justice of the Orissa High Court V. Gopalagodwa inaugurated the computerized judicial service centre.

The e-Courts scheme aims at enabling the lower courts with information and communication technology facility in their functioning for faster dispensation of justice. Key functions like case filing, allocation, registration, case work flow, orders and judgments would be IT enabled. Criminal courts and corresponding jails would have video conferencing facility for the trial.

Early this week, Law Minister, Salman Khurshid informed the Rajya Sabha that 57,179 cases were pending in the Supreme Court of India as on 30 June this year and 42,17,903 cases were pending in the High Courts as on 30 September last year.

The minister said that in order to facilitate speedy disposal of cases in courts, the government has approved setting up of ‘National Mission for Justice Delivery and Legal Reforms.’ The focus of this body would be to increase access by reducing delays and arrears in the system, enhance accountability through structural changes and by setting performance standards and capacities.

In order to computerize the justice delivery system government is implementing e-Courts Project for the District and Subordinate Courts in the country and upgradation of ICT infrastructure in superior courts at an estimated cost of Rs 935 crore.

The target is to computerize 12,000 courts by 31 March, 2012 and 14,249 courts by 31 March, 2014. Court and case management can be done through National Arrears Grid created under the project.

According to Praveen Dalal, Managing Partner at New Delhi-based techno legal ICT law firm Perry4Law, e-Courts in India are still in the first stage of computerization in some of the aspects of the courts. “Full fledged e-filing, submission of plaints and documents online, online evidence producing, etc. are still missing,” he said

Source: CXO Today.