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.

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