In my current blog, I shall discuss and explain the value addition which The Indian Judicial System will have if it moved forward to ‘Digitization’.
We have seen a lot of countries opt for the digital judiciary and even India has started adopting the same. However, such welcome steps are scarce and there is more lip talking than actual work being done on the ground level.
Let us start by understanding the concept
The very concept of converting The Traditional Indian Judicial system to E-Judiciary is a modernized step to convert all paperwork into electronic form which can be stored, viewed, transferred, accessed and used from anywhere in the globe.
While all other portfolios have taken ‘one small step is a big leap for mankind’ of a step, befriending with improvised technology and to use it in various form so as to help their work, it is just ‘Law and Order’ which hasn’t even bothered to explore the mammoth advantages technology can provide it. The giant leap taken after ages was the ‘E-Courts’ system which is according to me the very least of things technology has to offer.
It would not be wrong to say that starting from inception till the modern times, the Indian Legal System though never altering its basic structure to a great extent has underwent the process of ‘metamorphosis’ under various ways in different era’s.
Is such a change required?
The electronic medium is the big breakthrough in every department today. The use of technology enhances transparency, improves productivity, reduces corruption at the administrative level and also adds on to better accountability. Technology has established itself to be an essential element in every sphere of life. The human element clubbed together with technology can bring about unimaginable changes which shall work for the betterment of the Indian Judicial System. Any change sought for the inclusion of technology must be kept in mind with a backdrop to contemplate for the speedy justice delivery mechanism and must also not be defocused about the quality and public accountability it carries over its shoulders.
I know that to computerize and digitize the whole Judiciary seems like a herculean task and it is easier said than done. The change is inevitable and will be needed maybe not today but tomorrow. It is foreseeable, not avoidable.
The New Age Online Ways of Seeking and Providing Legal Services
It is to be noted that in this era of Digitization, everything is digital. Walking out of your house is not an essential requirement and delivery at your door steps is the way forward. From groceries to medicines and booking of cinema hall tickets to getting the appointment of a doctor, everything is there on the internet and can be found as fast as a click. If I were to say then I would tell you that – the old school ‘Yellow Pages’ has now become ‘Just Dial’.
The only question I ask myself today is – Can Advocacy not be a part of Digitization?
If people can find good mobile phones online, find good doctors online, get the best of reviews online then why still find an advocate by the traditional methodology which is downright dogmatic and has not been updated since time immemorial. The law in itself is made to benefit the society at large and digitizing the legal nitty gritty will just add value to the schematics drawn up. Imagine a nation with hassle free litigation? Imagine interactions being done online. The legal fraternity needs a boost in its system and not only the bar but also the bench needs one.
During this crisis of Covid – 19 where the whole world is at a standstill, disputes never stop. People cannot reach out to advocates, cannot discuss their queries. Are unable to meet them just because they have no option to find them. The new mechanism is what is needed right now. To bring Advocates and other men and woman of the Judicial Fraternity under the purview of Digitization.
The law which bars us needs to be amended and amended in accordance with the societal change. The law in itself is made to benefit the society at large. We, the Bar and the Bench form a part of this very society for which the laws are made to be benefiting. The time has come to stop restricting the Legal Fraternity from that which is legitimately nothing less than a revolution. The time of deprivation needs to end.
As our very own Prime Minister ‘Sri Narendra Modi’ has so rightly said – “Convergence of technology and the judicial system is the need of the hour. We need to go digital and adopt online analysis of legal cases. Dissemination of legal knowledge to the common man will also go a long way in improving the law and order situation in the country”.
What are the benefits of such a change?
For starters, let me just say that if technology will be used at its very best form and digitization is 100% in the courtrooms starting from an end to end basis. The very least that will be done is that Supreme Court can supply water to the State of ‘Bengaluru’ for a day.
Shocked? Well you must be. Starting from Lower Courts, to High Courts, Supreme Court, Tribunals and other Judicial and Quasi Judicial Bodies there are several thousands of petitions which are written/printed, many of which get discarded after a single use. (hazira, adjournments, etc).
According to statistics, the Indian Courts use a minimum of eleven (11) billion sheets of paper over a year. As per a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the year 2017, the Apex Court alone stocks a supply of 48 million sheets of paper, 813 million sheets of paper by the High Courts and about 10 billion sheets of paper are being stocked in the Lower Courts.
If one tree uses 8,333 sheets of paper with 10 litre of water, there are a total of 1.3 million trees stocked in the Indian Judiciary every year. This is not everything, alongside that Indian Judiciary also withholds at the very bare minimum a whopping 109 litre of water every year. The recent decision of printing both sides has unknowingly saved 54 litre of water being stored.
This amount of water in itself is a sufficient to provide for The State of ‘Mumbai’ for 14 days.
These are just the environmental benefits. There is however a lot more than just safekeeping of the environment if digitization is implemented.
According to National Judicial Data Grid ‘NJDC’, the total pendency of Indian Courts stands at 26,923,146 cases and counting. Going digital will help in speedy adjudication. The concept is not new to India and the implementation has started. It is not that I am writing here with India not having a paperless Court. I am writing here to ensure the readers to understand that what happens if the ‘Indian Judiciary’ becomes paperless.
The very first E-Court was opened in the High Court of Hyderabad inaugurated by Justice ‘Madan B Lokur’. Former Chief Justice of India – CJI JS Khekar is one of the advocates who are in favor of such digitization and in his tenure as Chief Justice he welcomes this step with open arms to set the future of the Judiciary into speedy mechanism with the help of technological advancement and support.
With the help of digital technology we can look forward to a paperless court system starting from the stage of filing a case to deposition of evidence, recording of court proceedings, delivery of judgement, application for certified copies, service of copies to other parties and a lot more.
The following shall be the benefit of using technology over traditional mechanism
- There will be no need to carry case files/case documents as the same will be available online on any electronic device.
- If at all the case needs to be transferred/case files need to be brought to a superior court/appeal need to be made etc, paper work for the same gets reduced and because the data is now stored in electronic form it can be transferred by a click and is also portable therefore reducing the man load.
- Evidence can be taken online by way of video conferencing from prison cells. Technical witness need not take leave from work. Adjournments will be less if there is such a provision hence the pendency of cases reduces. Also, in the alternative documents can be uploaded online.
- This data is non corruptible, can have multiple backups, security measures so that authorized access is granted, is cost effective, reduces the cost and can be uploaded in cloud data which can be then delegated at multiple levels.
- In case there needs to be an appeal filed all you need to do is select the ground for appeal and do the minimum digital work and the appeal can be submitted even at the highest judicature.
While ending this very blog all I have to tell the readers is this – “while technology is outpacing the law, both produce together a kind of regulation of creativity which we have never seen before”.