OLCMS Of P4LO For E-Courts In India And Worldwide

OLCMS Of P4LO For E-Courts In India And WorldwideLegal cases have increased tremendously in India and Indian government is a major contributor to the same. In order to minimise the litigation in India attributable to Indian government, the Indian government formulated the national litigation policy of India. However, the policy is neither adequate nor implemented till now. The litigation policy must use both e-courts and online dispute resolution (ODR) for effective dispute resolutions in India.

Using e-courts and ODR in India requires tremendous efforts on the part of all stakeholders. It would also require techno legal expertise so that both e-courts and ODR can be effectively used in India.

We at Perry4Law and Perry4Law’s Techno Legal Base (PTLB) have started few techno legal initiatives in the fields of e-courts and ODR. While the final shape of these projects is yet to be decided yet some steps have already been taken in this regard. For instance, an Online Legal Case Management System (OLCMS) of Perry4Law Organisation (P4LO) has been started as a prototype for our main project titled E-Courts 4 Justice (EC4J). Updates in this regard would be available from time to time at our Twitter account named EC4J.

Similarly, in the field of ODR we have started few initiatives. These include a discussion forum titled Online Dispute Resolution Mechanism (ODRM) of Perry4Law Organisation (P4LO) and Online Case Management System (OCMS) of Perry4Law Organisation (P4LO).

We are also in the process of testing other open source tools and software for legal and judicial fields and the same would be launched very soon.  We hope our readers and viewers and all national and international stakeholders would find these initiatives useful.

E-Courts And ODR Should Be Included In National Litigation Policy And Amended Arbitration Law Of India

E-Courts And ODR Should Be Included In National Litigation Policy And Amended Arbitration Law Of IndiaDisputes and litigation have so much increased in India that they have overburdened our judicial system. Courts are struggling hard to cover the backlog of cases but the backlog keeps on increasing on a daily basis.

Many of such disputes can be either avoided or they can be resolved without litigation. Information and communication technology (ICT) can play a significant role in this regard as ICT can not only prevent unnecessary cases from entering into the judicial system but it can also eliminate the vices like bench hunting. Access to justice for marginalised people in India can also be enhanced using ICT. It is clear that ICT is going to play a major role in the governance of India.

For too long it was felt that electronic delivery (e-delivery) of services in India is required. However, e-delivery of services in India remains missing till now. With the announcement of Digital India and Internet of Things (IoT) initiatives by Narendra Modi Government, things are definitely going to change. This is more so regarding fields like education, healthcare, Judiciary, etc.

As far as Judiciary is concerned, the concepts of online dispute resolution (ODR) and electronic courts (e-courts) must be essential part of the Digital India and Internet of Things (IoT) initiatives. Both ODR and e-courts must also be part of the national litigation policy of India (NLPI) as well. In short, legal enablement of ICT systems in India is need of the hour.

Unfortunately, till the month of November 2014 we are still waiting for the establishment of first e-court of India. In fact, the e-courts project of India received a major blow recently when the e-committee refused to record proceedings at the courts in audio and video formats. Similarly, India has not used ODR for dispute resolution purposes so far.

Indian Government is considering amending the Arbitration law of India and also to bring suitable changes in the NLPI. We at Perry4Law Organisation and Perry4Law’s Techno Legal Base (PTLB) strongly recommend that ODR and e-courts must be integral and essential part of the amended Arbitration law and NLPI. We hope Indian Government would consider these suggestions while amending the Arbitration law and NLPI during the winter session of the Parliament.

E-Courts Project Of India Faces A Major Setback

E-Courts Project Of India Faces A Major SetbackIndian government has been struggling to establish e-courts in India. Till the month of November 2014, there is not a single e-court in India and we are still waiting for the establishment of first-court of India. There is no doubt about the significance of e-courts in India as that can play a significant role in providing access to justice to marginalised people in India.

We at Perry4Law and Perry4Law’s Techno Legal Base (PTLB) firmly believe that e-courts are totally different from computerised courts. India has been able to computerise some of the aspects of judicial functioning like cause list, online availability of judgments, courts filings on CDs/pen drive, etc. However, even with their collective use these aspects can at most make the courts in India computerised courts and not e-courts.

We believe that the starting point for an e-court is to enable various stakeholders to use information and communication technology (ICT) to successfully conclude the litigation. This essentially presupposes use of ICT from the stage of dispute agitation to its ultimate adjudication by the concerned court. We have not been able to ensure even online filing of complaints, cases and petitions in India so far and there is no question of conducting a full fledged litigation in an online environment in India as on date.

Now TOI has reported that the e-committee of the Supreme Court has rejected the government proposal to initiate audio-video recording of all court proceedings, suggested to begin with all 15,000 subordinate courts. This was intended to expedite trials and bring transparency and accountability in judiciary. The e-committee rejected the proposal saying this was not acceptable at present. It seems the Indian judiciary is still not ready for the concept of e-courts.

This is a major setback to the e-courts project of India as the computerisation stage is already over and with that system and infrastructure, e-courts cannot be established in India. There is an urgent need to shift to the second stage of e-courts project that is not happening.

The Digital India initiative is also stressing upon judiciary and education as areas of priority. This means that Digital India is contemplating establishment and using of e-courts to meet its objective. While Indian government has decided to launch a platform for e-books yet e-courts project seems to have taken a big blow. How Indian government would establish e-judiciary/e-courts in India in these circumstances is yet to be seen.

E-Judiciary In India: A Much Needed Initiative

E-Judiciary In India A Much Needed InitiativeCjnews India has covered a news item titled “e-judiciary in India is needed”. The concept of e-courts or e-judiciary is not new to India since talks about establishment of e-courts in India are in progress since 2003. Despite many talks, establishment of e-judiciary in India always remained a dream. As a result electronic delivery of justice in India is still struggling and facing many techno legal hurdles.

There is no doubt that e-courts can bring speedier and economic justice to Indian masses. Right to a speedy trial is contained in Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. It mandates a speedier and timely disposal of a case. Presently, India is facing a mammoth backlog of cases that can be reduced drastically by use of technology and e-courts. Technology can also help in achieving the objectives of National Litigation Policy of India.

The efforts for the establishment of e-courts in India are not sufficient and needs rejuvenation. This is happening because the legislature and executive are not versed with the litigation and the legal fraternity is never consulted while making techno-legal laws. India is also not experimenting well with concepts like online dispute resolution (ODR). In the absence of any interest for ODR in India this concept has still not been adopted by Indian government.

India has been experimenting with technology for long. Even a basic level legal framework has been introduced in India in the form of Information Technology Act, 2000 though it requires immediate repeal or amendment. There are many shortcomings of the IT Act 2000 and one of them is non binding nature of e-governance obligations of Indian government. The National E-Governance Plan (NEGP) of India has also failed to meet its objectives and marks. As a result India has failed on the fronts of both e-government and e-governance.

While India is still struggling to deal with basic level technology adoption, the BJP government has announced projects like Digital India and Internet of things (IoT) that rely prominently upon technology. These projects intend to extend the services to general public in the filed like healthcare, education, judicial services etc.

As far as judiciary is concerned, we are still struggling to establish the first e-court of India till October 2014. In these circumstances, achieving the objective of establishing e-judiciary in India is still a distant dream. E-judiciary project of India is also suffering from lack of techno legal expertise to manage the same. For instance, we have a single techno legal e-courts training centre in India. There is urgent need to develop e-courts skills in India so that e-judiciary project can become a reality.

However, it is not the case that no progress has been made in this regard. India judiciary has taken a pro active role to introduce technology for legal and judicial purposes. For instance legal notices can be served through e-mails, e-filing directions has been prescribed by Delhi High Court, marriage registration certificates can be obtained through video conferencing, etc.

If India wishes to achieve her noble objective of providing access to justice to marginalised segment of India, courts automation and digital preservation, much more is required to be done. Mere policy formulation is not going to be helpful and it is the actual implementation that is important. The BJP government must stress upon actual implementation than formulating policies and strategies that remain on paper alone.

Access to Justice For Marginalised People In India

PRAVEEN DALAL MANAGING PARTNER OF PERRY4LAW AND CEO OF PTLBRight to Free Legal Aid is a Fundamental Right under Article 21 of Constitution of India. Similarly, Right to Fair Trail is also a Fundamental Right under Article 21 of Constitution of India. These Rights intend to ensure a “Right to Justice” to those who cannot afford the “Costs and Forms” of availing Justice in India. In short, Right to Free Legal Aid is the backbone for granting access to Justice to “Marginalised People” of India.

It has been more than 60 years since the Constitution of India came into force. However, till now the objectives of achieving Right to Free Legal Aid and Right to Fair Trail are distant dreams. This is really frustrating as 60 years is a very long time to achieve this objective.

Our Legal and Judicial Systems are marred with many “Loopholes” and “Deficiencies” that would not allow us to achieve the objective of “Omnipresent Justice” in India. The Government Machinery and System is suffering from Corruption, Lack of Transparency and Accountability and Colonial Mindset. We are still not open to use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for “Extending the Reach of Justice” to different corners of India.

Computerisation of Courts has helped India in reducing the “Backlog of Cases” in the past. However, mere Computerisation of Court would not serve any further purpose in the present times. We have to migrate from “Computerised Courts” to “Electronic Courts” as soon as possible. Indian Government has been discussing establishment of E-Courts since 2003. However, till the month of August 2014, we are still waiting for the establishment of first E-Court of India. All Indian Government has been able to achieve is establishment of few “Computerised Courts” and labelled them as E-Courts.

Now we have to rely more upon “Software Element” than dependence upon Hardware alone. For instance, use of software can curb bench hunting in India and increase disposal of cases upto 25%. Recently, the Delhi High Court has ruled that marriage registration certificate can be issued by the Registrar on the basis of video conferencing of the concerned parties.

Software and Applications can also be used for “Dispute Resolution Purposes”. We have Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 that empowers the parties to a dispute to resolve their disputes through Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanisms (ADRMs) like Arbitration, Conciliation, Mediation, etc. However, the Arbitration Act is “Outdated” in nature as it does not specifically support use of Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) in India. There is an urgent need to enact new Arbitration Law for India that also recognises use of ODR in India for dispute resolution.

While other Nations are working towards using ODR for dispute resolutions yet India is in no mood to do so. For instance, the UK Government has started a Consultation on the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) to help UK consumers resolve complaints and disputes. ODR is also been proposed to be used for Cross Border E-Commerce Transactions, Cross Border Technology Transactions, Domain Name Dispute Resolution, etc. Even Legal Standards for Online Dispute Resolution for Cross-Border Electronic Transactions are under consideration.

These “Technological Remedies” are not difficult to adopt but the “Political Will” to do the same is missing. India can not truly achieve the task of bringing Access to Justice for Marginalised People of India till the Indian Government “Truly Accept and Adopt” use of ICT for that purpose.

We have a new Government at the Centre with a “Strong Leader” in the form of Mr. Narendra Modi that can help in achieving this much needed objective. I am confident that Access to Justice for Marginalised People of India would be a reality very soon as Mr. Modi prefers to use ICT for bringing various “Public Reforms”.

Use Of Software Can Curb Bench Hunting In India And Increase Disposal Of Cases Upto 25%

Use Of Software Can Curb Bench Hunting In India And Increase Disposal Of Cases Upto 25%India is not a keen user of information and communication technology for legal and judicial purposes. For instance, we are still waiting for the adoption of e-courts in India and online dispute resolution (ODR) in India. Till May 2014 we are still waiting for the establishment of first e-courts of India and ODR is till not used as an alternative dispute resolution mechanism in India.

It is not the case that India is not aware of the effectiveness and benefits of use of technology for legal and judicial purposes. Actually there is a lack of techno legal expertise and political will to implement technology driven initiatives in India. Till now India has been able to achieve computerised filing of paper based documents alone and e-filing and other aspects of e-courts are still decades away from being actually implemented.

Now it has been reported that implementation of an auto-generated software program for rationalization of assignment of cases led to a marked 25% rise in disposal of cases and put an end to bench-hunting. This has been found in a study conducted by IIM-Indore that analysed administrative functioning of high court on filing, listing and disposal of cases.

“Administrative rationalization is likely to expedite disposal of cases, balance workflow and increase satisfaction among stakeholders,” the study said.

Registrar general Ved Prakash Sharma said comparison of cases before and after disposal of cases in 2013 and 2014, respectively, proves success of the scheme. “In first quarter of 2013, 27,002 cases were disposed. In 2014, the number of cases disposed in same period was up—35,880—registering an increase of 25%”. “Employees are comfortable as they get assigned work for the day on computer, which they can finish in time and can go home comfortably without any stress for next day,” Sharma said.

Through the computer program, registry officers have effective control over the system. SMS alerts are given for defaults and listing cases to litigants and lawyers.

Marriage Registration Certificate In India Can Be Obtained Through Video-Conferencing

Marriage Registration Certificate In India Can Be Obtained Through Video-ConferencingUse of information and communication technology (ICT) in legal, judicial and quasi judicial fields is still a distant dream. For instance, ICT can be effectively used to run and managed e-courts in India. Similarly, ICT can be used for the purposes of online dispute resolution (ODR) in India. However, till February 2014 we are still waiting for the establishment of first e-court of India and ODR in India is still a dream.

The only solace can be found in the form of pro active steps taken and decision given by various High Courts and Supreme Court of India. In one such incidence, the Delhi High Court has ruled that marriage registration certificate can be issued by the Registrar on the basis of video conferencing of the concerned parties. This would help couples that are staying abroad and who cannot come to India for the sole purpose of in person hearing and attendance.

Justice Manmohan, allowing this procedure in favour of a newly-wed couple based in Canada, said that the rule mandating physical presence while applying for registration was “framed at a time when technology was nascent”. The court said the family members could take delivery of the marriage certificate once the couple confirms this through video-conferencing.

“The law has to adapt to changing times,” the court opined. It also said that developments that have changed the world and the way we view the world today were “unimaginable” and perhaps “beyond comprehension of the rule makers”. The court also observed that technology has enabled parties today to attest documents digitally and ensure digitally secure transmission through the internet.

The court directed the registering authority of the Hindu Marriage Act to accept the application for registering the marriage of couple through their power of attorney holders.

It further asked the registrar to satisfy himself about the legality and validity of the power of attorney as well as the newly-wed couple through video-conferencing, as compelling them to visit India only for this purpose would entail avoidable delay and expenses.

The court also suggested that the government evolve suitable mechanism with a mix of technology by incorporating video-conferencing, authentication of identities by embassies and attestation of signatures in a similar manner.

In 2008 a similar judgment was passed by Justice S. Ravindra Bhat and the same seems to be the basis of the present judgment. However, Justice Manmohan has extended the scope of the previous judgment and we at Perry4Law welcome these well reasoned and much required judgments.

Dedicated Blog On E-Courts In India

Dedicated Blog On E-Courts In IndiaDue to extraordinary positive response to this Blog and growing interest of our national and international clients in this field, Perry4Law Organisation has decided to dedicate this Blog exclusively to the field of E-Courts.

All old posts have been retained for the sole purpose that our readers and viewers are not deprived of these articles that have been globally searched on a large scale. However, from now onwards, we would post only articles related to E-Courts and use of ICT for judicial and legal purposes in India and other jurisdictions at this Blog.

We have also been managing dedicated Blogs in the fields like Cyber Law, Cyber Security, Cyber Forensics, E-Commerce, E-discovery, Online Dispute Resolution, etc. Please visit those and other Blogs for specialised fields.

Thanks for your support to and appreciation of Perry4Law Organisation.

Practice Directions For Electronic Filing (E-Filing) In The High Court Of Delhi

Establishment of e-courts in India is a much awaited dream. However, the Delhi High Court has taken a significant step in this direction. After introducing the filing of electronic documents through CDs, the Delhi High Court has released the Practice Directions for Electronic Filing (E-Filing) in the High Court of Delhi.

These practice directions will apply to Electronic Filing (e-filing) of cases in the High Court of Delhi and will be effective from the dates and for the categories of cases as may be notified by the Chief Justice of the High Court of Delhi from time to time.

Except as provided elsewhere in these practice directions, all petitions, applications, appeals and all pleadings/documents in fresh, pending and disposed of cases will be filed electronically in the manner hereafter provided.

The original text material, documents, notice of motion, memorandum of parties, main petition or appeal, as the case may be, and interlocutory applications etc. will be prepared electronically using MS Word or Open Office software. The formatting style of the text has also been prescribed in this regard.

The documents should be converted into Portable Document Format (PDF) using any PDF converter or in-built PDF conversion plug-in provided in the software. Where the document is not a text document and has to be enclosed with the petition, appeal or application or other pleadings, the document should be scanned using an image resolution of 300 dpi (dot per inch) and saved as a PDF document. The maximum permissible size of the file that can be uploaded at the time of e-filing is 100 MB.

The text documents prepared in MS Word/Open Office as well as scanned documents should be merged as a single PDF file and bookmarked. The merged documents should be uploaded at the time of e-filing by using the facility provided at the e-filing centre in the High Court Lawyers’ Chambers Block-I. The screen shots of the manner of accessing the e-filing portal and filling up the relevant columns for the purpose of e-filing have also been provided.

All electronic documents filed using the e-filing system will have to be digitally signed by the advocate for the parties or where it is being filed in person, by the party concerned. The list of recognized Digital Signature Providers and the procedure involved in appending single or multiple digital signatures have also been prescribed.

Court fee can be paid by purchase of electronic court fee either from the online facility provided by the Stock Holding Corporation of India Limited (http://www.shcilestamp.com/) or the counters provided for the purpose in the Delhi High Court or from any other authorized court fee vendor in Delhi. The payment code whether automatically generated on payment of court fee online through the payment gateway of Stock Holding Corporation of India Limited on the receipt when court fee is purchased from the counter, has to be filled in the appropriate box at the time of e-filing.

The originals of the following documents that are scanned and digitally signed either by counsel or parties in person at the time of e-filing should be preserved for production upon being directed by the court at any time. In any event, they should be preserved at least for a period of two years till after the final disposal of the case: (Final disposal shall include disposal of appeals if any).

(a) Signed Vakalatnama,

(b) Signed and notarized / attested affidavit,

(c) Documents of title or conveyance, agreements etc.,

(d) Any other document whose authenticity is likely to be questioned.

The responsibility for producing the originals and proving their genuineness shall be of the party that has electronically filed the scanned copies thereof. Access to documents and pleadings filed electronically in a case will be provided only to advocates for the parties in that case or the concerned parties themselves. The advocate or the party may obtain documents from the Filing Counter by mailing an application along with a blank CD-R/DVD-R to be provided by the party.

Exemption from e-filing of the whole or part of the pleadings and/or documents may be permitted by the Court upon an application for that purpose being made to the Court in the following circumstances:

(i) E-filing is, for the reasons to be explained in the application, not feasible; or

(ii) There are concerns about confidentiality and protection of privacy; or

(iii) The document cannot be scanned or filed electronically because of its size, shape or condition; or

(iv) The e-filing system is either inaccessible or not available for some reason; or

(v) Any other sufficient cause.

In addition to the prescribed mode of service, notices, documents, pleadings that are filed electronically may also be served through email by the High Court of Delhi. The e-mail ID of the High Court of Delhi (delhihighcourt@nic.in) will be published on its website so as to enable the recipients to verify the source of the e-mail at the e-mail addresses, if available, of the advocates or parties.

Electronic filing through the e-filing centre is permissible up to 4 p.m. on the date of filing. All other rules relating to holidays etc. for the purpose of computation of limitation, as specified in the Rules of the High Court of Delhi will apply to online electronic filing as well. The period during which e-filing system is in-operational for any reason will be excluded from the computation of such time. This, however, will not extend limitation for such filing for which the facility of Section 5 of the Limitation Act, 1963 or any other statutory extension of period of limitation is not available.

For electronic filing done through the e-filing centre in the Delhi High Court premises, the rules relating to time for the purposes of limitation will be no different from those applicable for the normal filing.

As and when the facility of electronic online filing commences, such electronic online filing would be permissible up to midnight on the date of filing.

Caveats can be registered, and all written statements, counter affidavits or reply affidavits, affidavits by way of rejoinder, documents, applications in pending matters or in disposed of matters, supplementary pleadings, documents etc in pending cases can be filed electronically using the e-filing system.

Lawyers as well as parties can print hard copies of all pleadings and documents filed electronically for their use in the court or elsewhere. Likewise the Registry will, wherever required, prepare hard copies for use of the courts.

The pleadings and documents electronically filed will be stored on an exclusive server maintained under the control and directions of the High Court of Delhi. Each case will be separately labeled and encrypted for this purpose to facilitate easy identification and retrieval. The security of such document and pleadings will be ensured and access to them would be restricted in the manner indicated hereinbefore and as may be notified from time to time.

Back-up copies of all electronically filed pleadings and documents will be preserved in the manner decided by the Court on its administrative side.

Overall the initiatives and efforts of Delhi High Court are highly commendable though much is still to be achieved. Perry4Law welcomes this effort of Delhi High Court towards making the Judicial System expeditious, economic, transparent and accountable.

The Proposed Privacy Law Of India Immuned Intelligence Agencies From Its Operation

India has been ignoring the privacy law for long. From time to time Indian government has announced the formulation of a draft bill in this regard but till now no privacy law has been enacted for India. Even the latest draft privacy bill revolves around preventing phone tapping by private individuals alone.

There is no constitutionally sound lawful interception law in India. India is still using the outdated and colonial laws like Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 to indulge in phone tapping that also without any judicial scrutiny. Add to this the unconstitutional projects like Aadhaar, Central Monitoring System, Natgrid, etc and the circle of e-surveillance and eavesdropping is complete.

The present draft of privacy bill has been pending for at least one year. Although the new privacy bill will protect Indian citizens from private e-surveillance yet state managed e-surveillance are still beyond the reach of the proposed bill.

The government has accepted the home ministry’s view that the new privacy law should not stand in the way of security agencies such as the Intelligence Bureau collecting information.

A government source told Hindustan Times that the department of personnel and training (DoPT) — which is drafting the privacy law — was going by the home ministry’s view of “lawful interception regime, as it exists, should be taken as a permissible exception to the privacy law”.

Consider this in the light of the fact that our intelligence agencies are not subject to any sort of parliamentary oversight. What purpose such an impotent law would serve is yet to be seen.