Disputes and litigation
have increased to such an extent in India that they have overburdened the
Indian Judiciary. Courts have to struggle 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 through negotiation.
Computerization and digitization of the judiciary in
India has been undertaken under several schemes and projects since at least
1990. The eCourts project is the most recent, and arguably, the most ambitious,
attempt to introduce ICT in the Indian judiciary. It seeks greater standardization
in judicial processing, progressive service delivery and process reform of
judicial functioning based on empirical data.
One of the National e-Governance projects being
implemented in District and Subordinate Courts of the Country is the eCourts
Integrated Mission Mode Project. The project aims to provide designated services
to judiciary, lawyers and litigants through universal computerization of
district and subordinate courts, as well as the upgradation of ICT
infrastructure of the Supreme Court and the High Courts.
The e-courts project will be implemented in 3 phases
In the year 2007, CCEA approved the computerization of
13,348 district & subordinate courts over a two year period at the cost of
Rs.441.80 crore. In the year 2010, The
project provides for upgradation of ICT infrastructure in the Supreme Court and
High Courts and ICT enablement (hardware and software) to cover 14,249 district
and subordinate courts located in 3,069 court complexes across the country
with a revised budget of Rs.935 crore.
The project has provided laptop to judicial officers and
judges. It planned at establishing the Judicial Service Centre at the
computerized courts and also training the judicial officers for the use of
UBUNTU – Linux OS. In this phase the national e-Courts portal
(http://www.ecourts.gov.in) has become operational and has been opened for
public access. The portal gives details of case registration, case status, cause
list, daily orders, and final judgments to the litigants.
Approximately 95% of the activities relating to
installation of hardware and software, connectivity and change management have
been completed within the stipulated timeline by 31st March, 2015, as indicated
Status as on 31.12.2015
To add to further ICT enhancement, the Phase II of the
project was approved with a cost of Rs. 1670 crore with a duration of four
years by the Cabinet in July 2015. The project sanction was issued in August
2015. The project would be in alignment with the Digital India program of the
Government of India. The project is aimed at delivery of 30 different services
to the litigants through seven different platforms.
It is currently is in progress, which aims at setting up
of centralized filing centers, digitization of documents, creation of e-filing
and computerization of court libraries.
The project would be helpful in the automation of work
flow management in the courts, thereby contributing to better court and case
management. Touch screen based video conferencing facility will be installed at
all Court Complexes and corresponding jails. Hand held process service devices
will be provided to process servers to ensure transparent and time bound
delivery of court notices and summons. Also, the use of solar energy has been
proposed at 5 percent of the court complexes on a pilot basis so as to ensure that
there is power backup.
It proposes the upgradation of centralized facility and
to create a digital archive of record room and digital library system. It also
lists the use of advanced ICT tools, biometric facilities and gateway interface
with other agencies.
The possible challenges
that could arise while setting up e-courts
While e-courts are a great initiative towards better
access to justice and to ensure speedy justice for the litigants and also
provide a solution to the large number of pending cases across country, the
proposition of e-courts raises multiple challenges. These challenges include
the lack of coordination, communication between various departments, training
large number of employees, lack of technical manpower in courts and awareness
amongst litigants, advocates and their acceptance to the system change.
E-courts will also manifest to be cost extensive as
mounting up state of the art e-courts will require the implementation of new age
technology and consequently e-courts may run into the issue of lack of funds in
the long run.
A huge concern will be the cyber security threat. Though
the government has initiated remedial steps to address this problem and
formulated the Cyber Security Strategy but it is more on the side of prescribed
guidelines alone. The practical and actual implementation of the same is still
Lastly, we can also expect challenges related to
insufficient infrastructure and non-availability of electricity and internet
connectivity in most of the Talukas/villages.
address the challenges:
To address the required challenges, we need to draw up a policy
for encouraging the setting up of e-courts. To lay down a concrete road map in
lines with the e-courts scheme of India, it is necessary to draw up a
As the present judicial infrastructure does not support
establishing the e-court project, so the present state of infrastructure needs
to be upgraded. The government needs to visualize and build the infrastructure to
support the various e-court projects.
One aspect that needs to be focused on is the deployment
of a robust security system that provides secure access to case information for
appropriate parties. The security of e-courts infrastructure and system is of
The government must also make dedicated efforts in the
training of personnel to maintain all the e-data. These include maintaining
proper records of e-file minute entries, notification, service, summons,
warrants, bail orders, order copies, e-filing etc. for ready references. Also,
conducting training sessions to familiarize the Judges with the e-courts framework
and procedure can give a huge impetus to the successful running of e-courts.
Lastly, creating awareness around e-courts would through
road shows and seminars can help bringing to light the facilities and the ease
that e-courts can bring in.