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.

ICT Strategy in India: The Need Of Rejuvenation By Praveen Dalal (2006)

The aim of this article is to discuss the benefits of use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for the overall development of India. The article is also trying to analyse the weaknesses of Indian ICT strategy and policies and the possible arenas and segments that may be included into it to make it a globally competitive and efficient utility.

I. Introduction

In the present globalised and decentralised world, India cannot afford to keep its economy closed and secluded. Thus, an interaction between Indian economy and world’s economy is inevitable. That is not a big problem. The real problem is to make Indian economy an efficient and competitive economy. Though there are many indicators for measuring the strengths and weaknesses of an economy, but the ICT strategy of a nation is very crucial to put it on a global map. It is very important that the ICT strategy and policies of a nation must not only be suitable but should also believe in a “holistic application and implementation”. The ICT strategy and policy of a nation cannot afford to keep the different components of ICT separate. Their amalgamation and supplementation must be done at a priority basis otherwise the ICT strategy and policy will not bring the desired results. The present ICT strategy and policies of India are deficient and defective.This is so because most of the components required to make it a transparent, accountable and suitable strategy or policy are missing. The major among them are:

(a) Non-use of Public Private Partnerships (PPPs),
(b) Absence of use of “collective expertise”,
(c) Lack of gender sensitive policy,
(d) Lack of security and technological safeguards,
(e) Lack of a techno-legal base in India,
(f) Absence of ICT use for justice administration,
(g) Inappropriate focus on cyber forensics and aggressive defense, etc.

II. The Analysis

The use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has a social aspect as well. India being a Welfare State, the social structure cannot be given a complete go bye. This makes the analysis of ground reality of India inevitable keeping in mind the socio-economic, political and social conditions prevailing in India. The biggest problem with Indian ICT strategies and policies is that “localisation” and “Indianisation” are missing. We cannot blindly adopt and superimpose foreign models and ideas. They are bound to be a big flop show if we ignore the grass-root problems existing in India. Emphasis must be laid down upon solving the local problems by using local solutions.

Let us now analyse various components and perquisites of a sound ICT strategy and policy of India and see how far India is fulfilling the same. These are:

(a) Gender Sensitisation

One of the ignored ICT issues is the “gender sensitisation” that must be adopted while formulating and implementing the ICT policies in India. It is commonly understood that men and women understand and use Computers and Internet differently. Thus, the policy decisions must make sufficient provision for adopting itself with this aspect. Within India also we must understand that the training, use and adoption of ICT must be “gender neutral”. For a gender neutral technology we have to first place the women on an equal platform. They cannot be put on an equal platform till they have equal capacity and opportunity to use ICT. They cannot also effectively use ICT till their “feedbacks and concerns” are incorporated in the National Policies including the E-governance plans.

The position is worst when it comes to women that also rural women. In our society, whether they belong to the majority or the minority group, what is apparent is that there exists a great disparity in the matter of economic resourcefulness between a man and a woman. Our society is male dominated both economically and socially and women are assigned, invariably, a dependant role, irrespective of the class of society to which she belongs. It must be appreciated that a nation that does not respect its women cannot be described as a civilised nation at all. Such a nation cannot grow and develop and will ultimately perish due to its own rudimentary and tyrannical dogma. Thus, the national consensus should concentrate on betterment of women by suitably empowering them. The plight of the women, however, cannot be improved till they are duly represented in the “power structure” of the nation. In a democratic country the voice of women can be heard only to the extent they are sharing the power structure in the supreme governance of the country.Thus, ICT can play a major role in women empowerment if they are provided employment opportunities at the village level after providing them suitable training. We have to open more village kiosks so that greater women participation can be there. This cannot happen till we first make the e-governance and ICT strategies and policies transparent and accountable. Mere computerisation is not e-governance. Further, the ICT grant goes into crores of rupees, pocketed out of public money, which is sufficient to bring India on the map of an ICT leader. The citizens must liberally use the provisions of Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTIA-05) to ask for an account of every single rupee granted for the development of ICT and e-governance in India. No ICT and e-governance plan is bound to succeed till the Government is both accountable and transparent for the public funds used for that purpose. Till the Government is sensitive to these mandates of accountability and transparency nothing will change in India. Alternatively, we need a “CIVIL REVOLUTION” where the public must demand accountability and transparency from their representatives. After all they are representing us and are working for our betterment. A list of all ICT initiatives of the Government must be prepared along with the amount of funds allotted. Then a regular appraisal must be made to determine how much amount has actually been spent for the allotted purpose.

(b) Collective Expertise

The problem with Indian version of ICT development is that the adopted strategies and planning in this regard are not only unscientific but equally unproductive. It seems the concept “disguised unemployment” aptly applies while selecting various experts for meeting this job. Instead of a homogeneous group of experts who can substantiate and supplement a sound ICT planning and strategy, the preference is given to selective experts of a single type. The selection of experts must be made from all the respective fields so that a holistic picture can be produced. It is absurd to select a panel consisting of members falling under a single category. This not only results in a higher rate of investment and learning cost but equally the success rate is almost missing. Thus, instead of sanctioning of a huge budget in the form of “e-governance initiatives” the same must be first bifurcation on a scientific basis. Different units and stages of a project must be financed independent of each other. Another area of concern is the lack of transparency and co-ordination in the governmental functioning. The government experts do not wish to allow any external expertise and “public participation” is a rare sight there. Though, the face saving exercise of inviting “public comment and suggestions” is often followed in India but by and large that remains an empty formality.Another area of concern is that the government, for reasons best known to it, does not wish to wither away its traditional mode of functioning and any new innovation, technology and effective measure is protested and guarded against as an “alien enemy”.For instance, the IT Act, 2000 was enacted in the year 2000. After the lapse of almost 6 years we have no effective infrastructure for either e-governance or e-commerce. The will seems to be missing here. The government is also fond of cautious approach and it prefers to adopt foreign models instead of finding and applying the grass root level solutions. It is difficult to digest that developed countries standards can suit Indian socio-economic conditions. India must actively come forward to encash the benefits of ICT with a scientific and systematic approach. It should neither blindly follow foreign models nor wait for things to happen by miraculous chance. The fill in gap actions need to be avoided and something original must be tired. The endeavour of the government should be maximum happiness for maximum people. However, what I strongly endorse is that we cannot have a fruitful result till all of us join our expertise in respective fields so that a holistic picture can be provided. In my opinion, whenever we have to discuss a problem regarding e-governance, we must start the ball rolling and take views of respective experts in different fields. For instance, whenever an ICT issue arises, the people involved in the technical, administrative, legal, social fields etc must share their respective views regarding that. A collective work must be finally produced before the government so that more pressure can be put upon the government. This way we will have a holistic picture of the same. If we take just legal perspective, then it is useless. The same rule applies to other fields as well. It is high time that we must express ourselves as a “collective expertise” rather that “individual expert”. The existence of the former will be very difficult for the Government to deny.

(c) An Ideal Public-Private Partnership

The Public-Private Partnership (PPP) is the key to Indian ICT initiatives provided that the process is not limited to selective experts only. We should choose a homogeneous group of experts who can substantiate and supplement a sound ICT planning and strategy rather than giving preference to big companies. In India the Government plays the card of PPP with big companies only and individual expertise is never seeked. The blind trust upon big companies to the exclusion of the “real individual experts” is the worst nightmare for India ICT strategies and policies. This nightmare comes true repeatedly and frequently in the form of “censorships” of Internet and other ICT mediums in the absence of “techno-legal experts” to manage the same in a legal and constitutional manner.11 This shows that the Government’s present PPPs is nothing more than a “marriage of convenience”. It do not wish to go further and invite experts who can manage situation like these. The present Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in India do not even know the blocking procedure of a “single site” and in the absence of a techno-legal knowledge they end up in blocking the entire domain. The recent blocking of “Blogspot” is a classical example of the same that has not yet been fully restored. This blocking episode happened for the second time and keeping in mind the present “expertise” of Government and ISPs we can expect another one very soon. The Government do not wish to learn lessons from its mistakes and this forces it to exhibit a “knee-jerk” reaction to difficult situations. The Government must acquire expertise in “crisis management” and for that it needs “techno-legal experts” rather than surrendering the ICT policies to few big corporations. The government experts must also consider external expertise and “public participation” should be a common feature. Though, the face saving exercise of inviting “public comment and suggestions” is often followed in India but by and large that remains a mere formality. It must be appreciated that India is the leading producer of talent in the ICT field. If we have such a large talent pool, it is ironical that we still are struggling to produce a world class ICT and e-governance infrastructure. Even a layman may sometimes provide valuable inputs. The need of the hour is to consolidate and consider the “public inputs” and not to ignore them. The public comments and suggestions must be cateloged and indexed properly as they are the voice of the nation. Till now I have not seen even a single Government Department or initiative that has shown a positive and justice oriented attitude towards various public inputs. I am not aware when was the last time the Government came out with a draft or document containing public inputs. It seems the will is missing in India. I hope the concept of Public-Private Partnership will get its deserving share in India and its applicability and scope will not be limited to the privileged segments only.

(d) Security Mandates

India is on the verge of a technology revolution and the driving force behind the same is the acceptance and adoption of ICT and its benefits. This technology revolution may, however, fail to bring the desired and much needed result if we do not adopt a sound and country oriented ICT strategy. A sound ICT policy presupposes the existence of a sound and secure ICT base as well. IT is a double edge sword, which can be used for destructive as well as constructive work. Thus, the fate of many ventures depends upon the benign or vice intentions, as the case may be, of the person dealing with and using the technology. For instance, a malicious intention forwarded in the form of hacking, data theft, virus attack, etc can bring only destructive results. These methods, however, may also be used for checking the authenticity, safety and security of one’s technological device, which has been primarily relied upon and trusted for providing the security to a particular organisation. In fact, a society without protection in the form of “self help” cannot be visualised in the present electronic era. It is good to see that Government is advocating the e-governance plan in India but the big question is what it has done to make it secure and adaptable to international standards. For instance, every bank is claiming to be providing “Internet banking facilities” but how many banks have complied with the techno-legal requirement as prescribed by the IT Act, 2000 and the Reserve Bank Guidelines. It is very important to bring in place the security mechanisms so that the Banks and other players may establish due diligence in this regard. The due diligence requirement is very stringent and the criminal sanction behind this is too harsh to be ignored. Further, the Government has also not considered the legal risks associated with e-commerce. They are too numerous that their continued ignorance may cost India the valuable foreign revenue. Another area of concern is the use of alternative means to carry cash. Nowadays it is common practice to use Credit cards, Debit cards, ATM Machines, etc. It is very important to use preventive measure for securing these alternative means of carrying cash. The need of security mechanisms is very pertinent and if ignored may make India a safe heaven for cyber crime and misuse of ICT. The e-governance initiatives of India, if proved successful, would again cause lot of troubles in the absence of security mechanism at place. The moment computers will be linked to Internet, an unsecured and unsafe ICT base will collapse. I hope the recent budget of Rs 23,000 crores also carries some portion for the security purposes as well. Otherwise, that will be a pure wastage of not only that amount but also the amount that has to be spend to neutralise the damages to the ICT base due to unsecured and unprotected computer systems.

(e) The Governmental Apathy

The best instance of a sound ICT and e-governance base is a hassle free communication between the Government and its citizens. The same can be effectively done if the e-mail allotted to various Ministers and Government officials are accessed at least once a weak. Any person who has communicated with the Government or its officials through e-mails can testify that the Government and its officers are adamantly negligent in responding back. For instance, the majority of Government officers at Ministry/Department of Information Technology are very negligent in responding back. The Government as well as their officers are “Public Servants” and they must coordinate and cooperated with their citizens. However, the response at DIT/MIT is not only pathetic but also against the very ideal they are promoting, i.e. e-governance. Thus, it seems the inverse relationship of e-governance is applicable in its extreme rigours at DIT/MIT. A nation can develop at the fastest speed if we have capable and public interest respecting personnel manning various Government departments. If the premier department responsible for providing a sound ICT base in India is so indifferent and lethargic to public communications then we have no right to claim ourselves as an ICT oriented nation.

(f) Judiciary and ICT base

The increasing backlog of cases is posing a big threat to our judicial system. The same was even more in the early 90 but due to the computerisation process in the Supreme Court and other courts that was reduced to a great extent. However, the backlog is still alarming. This is because mere computerisation of Courts or other Constitutional offices will not make much difference. What we need is a will and desire to use the same for speedy disposal of various assignments. There is a lack of training among Judges regarding use of Information Technology (IT). We need a sound training of Judges first before we wish to capatilise the benefits of IT. A good initiative has already been taken by the Supreme Court. However, the same appears to be dormant for the time being. Thus, we need a public initiative as well. The resource titled “Electronic Courts in India”∗ is making a database of different situations that the Courts may face while discharging the judicial functions. As far as the computerisation is concerned, the Judges of all courts in Delhi have their own computers that are as per the latest configurations. However, the need of the hour is greater than mere computers providing. For instance, there was a proposal in the Delhi High Court where every computer of the concerned Judges was to be connected to the Central computer. Thus, whenever something is typed it would automatically go to the central computer and from there we can have the “Certified copies” of the concerned documents. That proposal has been applied to a greater extent and now it is much easier to get the certified copies. Further, cause lists, name of the Judges, Court numbers, name of the lawyers, etc are all available on the Internet. That has also facilitated the speedier disposal of cases. However, we need more. We need a complete utilisation of ICT for the effective disposal of cases and witness protection. For instance we can use the facility of “Video Conferencing” on alarge scale. Presently, it is used in some cases. We can use the concept of electronic governance for Witness protection. We can use the medium of Internet for filing of cases, bail applications, serving of notices, etc. These are some of the issues that are above mere computerisation. With the present pace, it may take at least 10 more years to be adopted. If we all take some pain and provide our own contributions that that task may be achieved within 1 year. Then another concern is regarding the security of the ICT infrastructure. We can provide the concerned officer with the necessary training but it is very difficult to make them technically aware about the security aspects. Thus, a technological base must also be established at the Court that may provide the security inputs to the Courts. A special attention must be paid to the Cyber Forensics aspect. It is useful for the Investigative, Prosecution and the judicial authorities. The real problem is not the functioning/management part but the procedural part. The procedural laws like Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, Indian Evidence Act, 1872 are too cumbersome that lot of precious years of parties are wasted. At this point we can use the ICT to speed up and streamline the judicial system. The first step is to lay down a foundation for e-governance and then we must effectively use the ICT for the betterment of Indian Judicial system. We have to cover a long distance yet because mere computerisation will not serve any purpose. If we have to succeed we have to learn to digitise papers and provide free and easy access to the litigants and other players involved with the system. We must learn how to establish a base for electronic filing, how to use e-mails and chatting systems for serving notices, summons and warrants and how to get the presence of the crucial witnesses through video-conferencing, etc. The safest bet is for the witness who can be sufficiently protected from the retaliatory tactics of the offenders by an active use of ICT base. Let us hope that these initiatives will be adopted very soon.

(g) A Holistic Approach Is Needed

A sound and efficient ICT base cannot be established in India till that nation at large wish it to be so. It is neither the sole prerogative nor the sole responsibility of the Government alone. The citizens, companies, NGOs, etc must come forward to contribute their part if the Government allows them to do so. The media plays an important role in the overall development of a nation. The same equally applies to India as well. It brings the irregularities, corruption and illegalities in various governmental and public dealings. It is a benign function that must be continued with a precaution that none should be personally attacked or there should not be a “news making”. I still remember the “sting operation debate”. We cannot take an “extreme view” in any circumstances. Every situation has positive and negative aspect. If we mention about the positive aspects only ignoring the negative one, then we would be failing our duty. Similarly, if we mention the negative aspects only bypassing the positive one, then we would be demolishing the very institution against which we are leveling the allegations. Thus, a holistic approach in every perspective is the need of the hour.

(h) E-Governance And Informational Rights

Transparency, accountability and authenticity (TAA) are the pre-requisites for good governance. These are, generally, not found in a “traditional paper based” governmental functioning. That is why use of ICT, in the form of e-governance, in governmental functioning assumes significance. Thus, e-governance can not only ensure “TAA” but equally makes Right to Information U/A 19(1)(a) and Right to Know U/A 21 of the Constitution of India a meaningful reality. The right to impart and receive information is a species of the right to freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution of India. A citizen has a Fundamental Right to use the best means of imparting and receiving information. The State is not only under an obligation to respect the Fundamental Rights of the citizens, but also equally under an obligation to ensure conditions under which the Right can be meaningfully and effectively be enjoyed by one and all. Freedom of speech and expression is basic to and indivisible from a democratic polity. The right U/A 19(1) (a) is, however, available only to the citizens of India and non-citizens can claim only right to know U/A 21 of the Constitution of India. Recognising the right to information (RTI) of “citizens” of India, the IT Act, 2000 and RTI Act, 2005 (RTIA-05) have been enacted. The RTIA-05, if implemented properly, could prove a boon for the e-governance initiative because the required information can be asked for and provided by using the e-governance base. The following provisions of the IT Act, 2000 reflect India’s concern to bring transparency in the functioning of governmental affairs through e-governance:

(a) Legal recognition of electronic records (section 4),

(b) Legal recognition of digital signature (section 5),

(c) Use of electronic records and digital signature in governmental dealings (section 6),

(d) Retention of electronic record for certain period (section 7),

(e) Establishment of electronic gazette (section 8), etc. However, these provisions provide only a non-absolute right to claim a sound e-governance base (section 9). The beneficial concept of e-governance can be utilised 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.
(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.
(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.

This sort of arrangement will definitely help in establishing a better state-citizen relationship. It will further, result in bringing transparency in governmental functioning as the RTIA-05 is providing right to citizens to ask for matters pertaining to governmental functioning.

III. The Expected ICT Strategy In India

The use of ICT, including e-governance, has the potential to turn a Developing Nation into a Developed Nation. The same is not only possible regarding India but will also be her ultimate destiny. However, mere empty words and deficient policies will not serve any purpose. We have to be dedicated and committed towards that objective. Till we make the Government and bureaucracy accountable and transparent nothing can happen in India. The key to achieve that purpose is “e-governance” that has the potential to eliminate corruption and bring order of the day within the Governmental functioning. Strangely enough, the concept of e-governance operates in a peculiar and inverse manner. It has not only the potential to bring transparency but also the capacity to breed corruption. It has the potential to bring transparency and eliminate corruption if we adhere to it in its true letter and spirit. It can be an undefeatable tool of corrupt practices if there is no accountability and transparency and the benign concept of e-governance is used as a façade to misappropriate public money by acting in papers only. There is a big gap between what must be done and what is actually done. Thus, there is a dire necessity of making the Government and the persons manning various Departments accountable and make their functioning transparent and fair. One of the tools that can be used to bring that result is the use of Right to Information Act-05 (RTIA-05) along with e- governance. The success of India’s ICT agenda depends upon few inevitable factors. These are:

(1) Transparency in dealings,

(2) Citizen centric interactions,

(3) Enforcement of RTIA-05 in its true letter and spirit,

(4) A sound e-governance and e-commerce base,

(5) Decentralised activities, etc.

Till now, we have none. The ICT is meant for the citizens at large and not government. If its benefits cannot be availed of by the common man, there is no use of merely following the tag of “technologically advanced country”. The net effect of any project must be evaluated. E-governance is not computerisation alone but an effective utilisation of Information Technology for the common benefit of public at large. The marginalised and deprived people cannot be benefited from this ICT drive till they are first provided with the basic needs that can keep their body and soul together. Let me share my personal experience with you. Once I was explaining the benefits of e-governance to a poor person. He kept on listening and then he asked me a question that I could not answer. You might be guessing what was that question? He asked me whether this Internet and computer can “download” a “roti”? I was clueless and immediately realised that we have to work in a systematic and scientific manner so that the computer can download a “roti” for all. We can afford to allow unemployment to exist if we can feed our entire population. But we cannot afford to allow even a single person to die of hunger, much less by committing suicide due to starvation, by giving priority to e- governance initiatives. This is the bitter truth that we must accept. For a successful ICT project technology plays only 15% role, while rest 85% role is being taken care of by project management. Human resource development of the existing workforce in order to inculcate appropriate skills and attitudes is a critical factor. Equally important is the establishment and set up of the basic infrastructure, which is conducive to the efficient functioning of the e-governance. A sound communication infrastructure is essential for easy access. It should be innovatively used to ensure that no section of society is deprived of the benefits arising therefrom. Governments have to learn to digitise documents quickly and effectively so that the ICT revolution becomes a reality in India.

Source: UNPAN And UN.

Background Information: This article was picked up by UNPAN in 2006 from http://cyberlawindia.blogspot.com/2006/07/ict-strategy-in-india-need-of.html. Other Blogs Of Perry4Law Organisation (P4LO) have also been cited in this articles that were operational in 2004 but are now restricted and are not available for public view. These include:

(1) http://perry4law.blogspot.com/2006/07/freedom-of-speech-and-expression-in.html,

(2) http://legalsolutionsindia.blogspot.com/2006/04/collective-expertise-need-of-hour.html,

(3) http://cyberforensicsinindia.blogspot.com/2006/03/preventing-cyberspace-violations-by.html,

(4) http://cyberlawindia.blogspot.com/2005/12/nternet-banking-and-its-challenges-in.html,

(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 (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.

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.