CRITICAL ANALYSIS ON DIGITIZATION OF DISTRICT COURTS BY NAVNEE GULATI @LEXCLIQ

In the modern age digitalization is linked to and referred as simplification of things. Digital India has become a new national priority of the nation. The word advancement and digitalization goes hand in hand. With the new vision of digital India many industries have gone digital. Digitalization of Indian courts is the move for moving the mess from piles of files in dusty rooms to servers and screen! But is this only a movement or an improvement too? The move of digitalization of courts which India has recently started has already been initiated by many developed countries before. In Canada online civil tribunals were organized in 2016 by State of British Columbia. All the criminal courts of England and Whale have been entirely digitalized not only this artificial intelligence has also overtaken the justice delivery in many advisory roles. Undoubtedly the wheels of Indian justice system move slowly which results in slowing down of the economy. National Judicial Data Grid which is appointed by Supreme court has conducted various studies which proves that delay in justice is due to collection of various reasons like pending vacancies to absenteeism of staff therefore in 2005 an e committee was setup by the supreme court which came out with the National policy and action plan for implementation of Information and Communication Technology in the Indian Judiciary. Lack of implementation resulted in the second wave around 2015 but the overburdened judges couldn’t take it thus this fire again turned to ashes and through this constant struggle the E-Court project successfully implemented which was conceptualized on the basis of the National Policy and Action Plan for Implementation of Information and Communication Technology and the vision to transform nation began. Digitalization of district courts. According to the recent study of National Judicial Data Grid shows that average pendency of civil suits in district courts is 3.66 years . Delhi High Court directed Delhi government for digitalization of all the district courts similarly all other states after the covid-19 outbreak and social distancing norm have adopted digitalization. The court has further suggested digitalization for small matter for example challan cases which does not require 20 judges and demand expedition. Honorable Supreme Court has regarded access to justice as a fundamental right and digitalization is one step forward for accessing justice to all.

To facilitate online payments of traffic challans, Delhi’s first ‘virtual court’ was launched at Tiz Hazari courts. The Delhi District Courts under the aegis of the E-Committee, Supreme Court of India has already launched the virtual court’s web portal for online payment of traffic challans. The portal will cater to traffic challans digitally generated by the Delhi Traffic Police via the E-Challan application developed by the NIC. The portal was inaugurated by former Supreme Court justice Madan B Lokur and chief justice of Delhi High Court justice DN Patel. “All traffic challans except those where the vehicle is impounded can be disposed of by making an online payment at the portal. An officer of the rank of Metropolitan Magistrate presides over the virtual court,” the Delhi High Court said in a statement.

During the covid -19 District Courts are taking emergency matters through online video conferencing. Technology has made all of it possible, from electronic notice to electronic summons which has made access to information for both the parties easily accessible. J Chandrachud stated that Covid outbreak has also provided an opportunity for technology advancement. “The beauty of technology is that it is complex for the person, who designs it, but is user friendly,” he said. But it cannot be ignored that socially economically weaker sections does not have digital friendly access and are unaware about handling the technology. The skill set of all the employees from clerks to registry officials is also an alarming issue. Some other major problems related to digitization of courts. HIGH SET UP COST- E-courts are a cost intensive process which require huge funds in employment of new technology.

RIDDLE OF COMPLICATIONS – Due to it being a new innovation, E- courts are lessuser friendly and involve more complicated process.

CYBERSECURITY – Hacking and cyber security is the most alarming issue since the inception of E-Courts because this technological advancement can lead the cybeR experts hack some of the important hidden records. Considering all the hurdles in the mind it cannot be ignored Indian District Courts needed to step in the third phase of development and technology is always an essential change in all the spheres of life.

 

FUTURE OF VIRTUAL COURTS IN CONTEXT OF REAL TIME JUSTICE

Though the set up cost of virtual courts is initially high but with the passage of time to this advancement it will be easier for parties to attend online trials as it would end up in reducing travel time and expenses. There is a huge backlog of cases pending with the increase in employment rate another advantage would be the flexibility in the working hours and the working hours of courts could be extended up to the requirements which will help in delivery of justice in a time bound manner.

Will speedier justice result in deterioration of the quality of justice?

Various legal problems are attached with this issue which includes applicability and authenticity of witnesses which will be produced. The whole setup will be be bound by technology which would bring the credibility and confidentiality of the court at stake due to data breach and security reasons. Will this speedier justice serve the real time justice? The question which arises to everyone out there! Its that phase of the development where adaption to changes is very necessary for the growth of economy and to with stand with developed nations of the world. Everything comes with certain advantages and disadvantages but coping up and adapting to new change brings new innovations and success to individual, to the nation and to the world!

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