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KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT: TECHNOLOGY AND EFFICIENT JUSTICE

DELIVERY
BY
MADAN B. LOKUR , JUDGE DELHI HIGH COURT
INDIA

In one of the more infamous misquotes on computers, Thomas J. Watson,


Chairman of the Board of International Business Machines (IBM) is believed to have
said; I think there is a world market for about five computers. A similar statement would
have been applicable to the justice delivery system in India about a decade ago, but due
to the sustained efforts of a professional group of software engineers from the National
Informatics Centre, a Department of the Government of India, fully encouraged and
supported by a some judges and judicial officers, the use of computers in judicial
administration in India has become a slow but steady reality, bringing about a virtual
transformation in knowledge management. Unfortunately, these efforts have been
sporadic and without any systemic micro-level support, with the result that knowledge
management and the use of computers at the lowest level of the judicial hierarchy
continue to remain a dream.

The basic problems in the Indian legal system were pin-pointed by eminent jurists
constituting the National Commission to Review the working of the Constitution. In 2003,
they identified five problem areas in the functioning of the judiciary. These are:-

a)

Undue delays in the disposal of cases and lack of sensitivity (accountability)


to the mounting arrears of cases.

b)

Injecting avoidable uncertainties in the law and thereby making the task of the
Executive more difficult and sometimes unmanageable.

c)

Lack of transparency in judicial appointments and transfers.

d)

Poor management of resources and ineffective standards of judicial


administration including legal aid.

e)
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Absence of strategic Action Plans for clearance of case arrears in courts.


Volume 1 paragraph 7.9.

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Of these, the first can be easily addressed through the use of information
and communication technology, mainly involving the use of computers in various
aspects of the justice delivery system. Realizing this, the Supreme Court of India
took the initiative and constituted a committee called the E-Committee for Monitoring
Use of Information Technology and Administrative Reforms in the Indian Judiciary.
This Committee consists of a retired judge of a High Court assisted by a District
judge and a technical expert. It has since formulated a National Policy and Action
Plan for implementation of information and communication technology in the Indian
judiciary, which was launched by our Prime Minister on 5th October, 2005. The
budget allocation for the National Plan is in the region of Rs.854 crores or Rs.8.54
billion and it is expected to be implemented in three phases within five years. With
this, hopefully, the courts in India will be technologically self-sufficient. But until then,
varied efforts are continuing and these are making steady progress. However, it must
be appreciated that the computerization of courts, by its nature, is a dynamic process
of indefinite duration. There are two principal reasons for this:

Software development is a time-consuming and tedious process


involving its preparation, testing and final application. Even then,
changes are required to be made in the programme as a result of
shifting requirements and other exigencies. Various versions of
Microsoft Windows testify to this.

New ideas for utilizing computers, some of them based on advances


made in technology, are generated from time to time. Additionally
fresh ideas are often generated through inputs received from different
sources.

This presentation is an attempt to document, to the extent possible, the use of


computers in courts in India and how they have helped in knowledge
management. It is based on experiences gained in various jurisdictions,
particularly in the courts in Delhi, where computer applications are the most
advanced in the country. Clearly, some of the issues discussed may not be
pertinent to other countries, and indeed, a few of them are not even relevant to
some jurisdictions within India itself. But, experiences gained and practices
adopted may be instructive and may assist in appreciating what can be done,
and this, in turn, may generate further ideas or invite modified applications to the

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use of computers in courts. For convenience, this presentation considers the use
and application of computers directly in the justice delivery system, that is, use by
judges (and their staff); how administrative functions can be streamlined through
the use of computers for the benefits of court registries, both integrated and
cellular; and the benefits that lawyers and litigants derive from computerization of
courts.

ASSISTING THE JUDICIARY

It needs hardly be emphasized that a computer is essentially a


data processing machine and unless it carries all the necessary data, it can only
have limited utility. Therefore, the first step that the court administration need to
do is to ensure that relevant data of all case files is entered into the
computer system in such a manner that it is easily accessible. While this may
pose a major problem in respect of the backlog of pending cases (in the Delhi
District Court this meant entering data in respect of a million cases) the
difficulties encountered can be minimized as far as the future is concerned, by
feeding the relevant information pertaining to a case at the stage of its filing.
Depending upon the number of cases that are filed, the introduction of this step
becomes that much more imperative. Keeping in mind the backlog and delay in
disposal of cases, a problem that is virtually endemic in this region, the sooner a
transition is made to the use of computers, the better.

To simplify the process of data entry and simultaneously make it easier to


plan on using the information, a detailed filing proforma has been devised both
by the Supreme Court of India as well as the Delhi High Court wherein adequate
information about a case is required to be filled up at the time of presenting it at
the filing counter. The information in the filing proforma includes not only the
names of the parties but also other relevant details, as for example in motor
accident claim cases, the nature of the injury; in revenue matters, the tariff
heading under which the indirect tax is sought to be levied; in land acquisition
matters, the details of the land sought to be acquired such as the village and the
date of the notification; in criminal matters, the police station and number of the

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First Information Report (FIR) etc. In addition to this, a large number of
categories and sub-categories of cases have been identified and numerically
defined. For example, in criminal matters, a case involving a sentence of more
than 7 years is identified as 100.12 (sentence awarded is above 7 years and up
to 10 years imprisonment), 100.13 (sentence awarded is above ten years) while
a case involving a sentence of 3 to 7 years is identified as 100.10, etc.

The advantage of numeric categorization of cases is that it can easily


be picked up by the computer even if full or complete information is not furnished
in the rest of filing proforma. Thereafter, similar matters pertaining to a particular
category can be listed together so that all similar cases can be diposed of with
one decision, or rapidly decided one after another. A rather remarkable use of
categorization of cases using the filing proforma method was made by the
Supreme Court in land acquisition cases when over 900 cases were disposed of
by one decision after completing a simple exercise of grouping and clubbing of
cases. Similarly, in issues concerning government servants, the Central
Administrative Tribunal completely wiped out its arrears within a couple of years.
Of course, the utility of categorization of cases would make a
considerable impact in so far as cases in the appellate courts are concerned, but
it would seem to have limited utility in the trial courts where the facts of each
case are different. However, even in the trial court, the disposal rate can be
increased through categorization and clubbing of cases, say, in claims arising out
of a motor accident or in cases relating to intellectual property rights. Innovative
utilization of information collated at the filing counter is necessary and that will
certainly be of immense assistance in disposal of cases.

Most court registries are bogged down by outdated and outmoded


practices, such as maintaining manually filled in registers. It is now time to take
drastic measures and give up these practices. Again, the most appropriate place
to begin this is at the stage of filing of a case. Maintaining registers must be
immediately discontinued wherever possible and relevant date pertaining to a
case must be fed into a computer at that stage itself. The immediate advantage
of this is that all information that is relevant to court management and for
planning purposes is readily available, from the very beginning. Additionally,

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maintenance of statistics is simplified, and that is the key to any effective court
management exercise. Unless it is known how many cases are filed, and in
which category, it is not possible to make any headway in any planning process.
Unless there is information available both about the number of cases that are
filed and the related category, it is possible that some judges may be
overburdened and in fact this frequently happens in the courts in India,
particularly in the courts exercising criminal jurisdiction. Overburdening the
docket of a judge considerably reduces his efficiency and compounds the delay
and adds to the backlog of cases. It is difficult to overemphasize the need for
introducing simple management techniques in court administration and the use of
computer greatly simplifies this process.

Apart from the advantage of clubbing and grouping of similar cases,


categorization assists knowledge management by eliminating the possibility of
inconsistent orders being passed by difference benches of the court. How this
works is that the computer system can be tapped to ascertain the order passed
in a similar case and that order can then be used as a precedent for passing
similar orders in subsequent cases. This system works extremely well when
there are a large number of litigants in a particular case and they file appeals or
revisions at different points of time. Under normal circumstances, without the use
of computer technology, it would be extremely difficult to group all such cases
together, but with the introduction of this programme in the Delhi High Court a
few years ago, the problem of different orders being passed in respect of cases
having identical facts or similar issues has been eliminated.

The National Informatics Centre has developed all the software that has
been put to good use by the Delhi High Court and the Delhi District Court. In
criminal cases, experience has shown that when an FIR is filed in respect of
several accused persons, and if they are arrested, they tend to apply for bail at
different points of time. Of course, it would be of some importance to know the
role played by each accused when his bail application is taken up for
consideration, but if different bail applications are filed by different persons at
different points of time, in respect of the same offence, then the judge can be
spared the labour of going through the same FIR several times over, by the

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simple expedient of ensuring that all such bail applications are taken up together
on one particular day. Additionally, it has also been experienced that when
repeated bail applications are filed by the same under trial prisoner, the judge is
often unaware whether any previous bail application was filed by him and if so
how it was dealt with. Through the computer system now, this information can be
immediately generated and, in fact, published in the cause list of cases so that
the judge, the defence and prosecution advocates are all aware of the history of
the various bail applications that may have been filed by the same accused.

One of the advantages of computer technology is its ability to disseminate


information to all concerned through the Internet. Every High Court in India now
has its own website and after the Delhi District Court launched its website about
three years ago, information with regard to cases pending in Delhi from the
Supreme Court downwards is now freely available on the Internet. The district
courts in other parts of the country have, unfortunately, not made use of the
Internet although some websites have been created by a couple of district courts
on an experimental basis. If this aspect of information and communication
technology is taken a little more seriously, there is no doubt that it will add a new
dimension to the right to information that is available to all persons in India.

A well developed website, as in the Delhi District Courts, ensures that


judgments that are delivered by the High Court are available to lawyers and
litigants within a few hours. Consequently, judicial officers and lawyers in Delhi
are well aware of the latest decisions rendered by the High Court and can apply
the law without waiting for completion of formal procedures, such as production
of a certified copy of the decision.

The use of digital signatures has greatly facilitated this task. The court
staff is merely required to ensure that every judicial order is digitally signed
before it is transmitted to the court server. On being digitally signed,each order
becomes tamper proof and, therefore, can be used as a certified copy of the
original. There is a proposal under consideration to permit an appeal being filed
on such a digitally signed copy, but that will require an amendment of the rules
and this may take sometime. Unfortunately, even through the use of the digital

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signature is not such a complicated affair, it has not been made use of as
universally as it should be.

An extremely important area in which digital signatures can be used is in


matters pertaining to the grant of bail. It is a matter of common knowledge that in
some of the districts in India, where communication facilities are not quite as they
should be, it sometimes takes 2 or 3 days to communicate a bail order. What this
means is that a person under detention, even though he has been granted bail,
cannot be released for a couple of days. This situation can easily be remedied
through the circulation of a digitally signed bail order via the internet all that it
requires is one computer in each district of the country to receive digitally signed
bail orders from the jurisdictional High Court or the Supreme Court, as the case
may be. Since conveying information on the internet is instantaneous, a digitally
signed bail order can be communicated immediately so that a person can be
released from detention without having to spend a couple more days in
incarceration due to inadequate communication facilities.

Video conferencing is another easily available technological resource that has


now assumed importance and can be exploited, if its benefits are appreciated. In
a case of national importance involving an accused by the name of Telgi, against
whom cases are pending in several parts of the country, it is impossible to keep
producing him in every court, virtually on a weekly basis, as required by law. All
the cases against Telgi have now been consolidated and will be tried in Delhi
while the accused is under detention in Pune (Maharashtra). Video linkage
allows him to be produced in court thereby saving a huge amount of financial
resources so far as the state is concerned and also obviating any security
problem that may arise. Video conferencing is now being utilized in the Delhi
District Court in respect of trial of terrorists in Calcutta and desperate persons in
Delhi itself. Presently, even though video conferencing facilities are available in
most parts of the country, they are seldom utilized, except for routine remand
purposes. However, in so far as Delhi is concerned, it is expected that any day,
the facilities will be utilized for the actual conduct of a criminal trial on a regular 2
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2 www.delhicourts.nic.in

basis, and the proceedings will then be recorded on a VCD so that there is a
permanent record of what the witnesses have said. The VCD can be played back
whenever required and the trial judge hearing final arguments in the case will
have the advantage of seeing the demeanour of the witnesses through the VCD.
It may be mentioned that the conduct of a civil trial through video conferencing
has the imprimatur of the Supreme Court and resort the video conferencing in
civil cases has already been resorted to in some cases. The existing techniques
will now be extended to criminal cases as well.

Case law research by judges and lawyers has now become extremely simple in
India through easy access to such CDs. In view of the large number of decisions
rendered by the courts in India, it is sometimes impossible to keep a track of latest
developments in the law and recent judgments delivered by the various constitutional
courts. Private enterprise has capitalized on this and now case law CDs are freely
available all over the country, containing judgments rendered by the Supreme Court as
well as judgments rendered by various High Courts. Apart from saving a considerable
amount of space and effort in maintaining a huge law library, searching out relevant case
law through the computer has now become relatively simple. Most computer savvy
lawyers and judges all over the country now do their legal research through case law
CDs or through websites maintained by private entrepreneurs. In fact, as a result of the
availability of case law virtually on the finger tips, some courts are now witnessing an
interesting phenomenon of a handful of judges carrying their laptops or tablet PCs into
the court room, not only for searching case law in the courtroom, but even taking notes
of arguments directly on the laptop.
Proper software management and the use of information and
communication technology (ICT) takes away a considerable amount of strain that
judges and judicial officers have in India due to the huge volume of pending
cases. Once the use of computers is encouraged, popularized and streamlined, it
will give judges a much required relief. Needless to say, with the continued and
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See for example State of Maharashtra v. Dr. Praful B. Desai, (2003) 4 SCC 601
The Supreme Court has approved trial by video conferencing in criminal cases in Kalyan
Chandra Sarkar v. Rajesh Ranjan, (2005)3 SCC 284 and Sakshi v. Union of India &
others, (2004) 5 SCC 518

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increased use of computers in court by judges and of course by the registry
(which is required to perform a large number of administrative functions), their
general efficiency has improved. While the scalability of the improvement is not
possible, there is no doubt that some of the hassles earlier faced by judges,
lawyers and litigants are not being encountered today. The difference, in terms of
efficiency, is quite perceptible, as one would expect and it is only a matter of time
when the use of computers in judicial functioning takes firm root, and the chronic
delays and backlog faced by judges and judicial officers in India may get wiped
out. This is not to suggest that computerization of courts is the panacea for
backlog and delays. It is only one of the factors that would help in reducing the
problem of arrears encountered by all courts in India.

ASSISTING THE ADMINISTRATION

Some functions performed by court registries are purely


administrative while some are intimately connected, in some from or another,
with the judicial function of the courts. In the first instance, I propose to refer to
computerization related to purely administrative functions, and later to the court
related functions of the registry.

As it is necessary to obtain all necessary data about pending cases, it is


equally necessary to gather all relevant data pertaining to the staff in the registry.
This is for several reasons, including human resources planning and
management, accounting purposes in terms of salary, allowances and leave etc.
A personnel information system exists, in some form or another, in most large
corporations and there is no reason why the registry of a court should not
maintain personnel information so as to be able to function as efficiently and
methodically as a corporation. On this premise, it must follow that all relevant
data with regard to the staff must be available where it can be speedily and easily
accessed as in a computer system, if for nothing else, then at least for
management purposes.

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One of the problems faced by the court staff is of tedium brought about by
doing the same work for a number of years in the same environment. If details
about the number of years that staff members have put in on a particular
assignment are available, then transfer and rotation policies can be easily
implemented. Added to job ennui is another factor which is that some districts in
India are graded in accordance with the facilities that are available there. If an
officer is posted in a district where the facilities are not as they should be, it is
considered a hard posting and usually an officer is not required to serve in a
hard area for more than 2 or 3 years in his career. Availability of all this
information will certainly assist in bringing about some semblance of proper
human resources management and will assist the administrative authorities in
ensuring that each member of the staff, working either in the registry or in a
district, is given a fair deal in terms of transfers and assignments, based on
relevant considerations.
One serious problem faced by the court administration, and which is a
constant refrain everywhere in India, is the lack of space to store court records.
The huge space crunch is caused due to the large volume of case files and
outdated rules which require records to be maintained for several years, and this
is getting worse over the years. Some courts, such as the Supreme Court have
amended their rules and have weeded out records that are not required, but
many of the High Courts have not made similar amendments to their rules with
the result that useless records are maintained for long periods of time. One of the
ways of overcoming the space crunch is by digitizing the record through a
process of scanning them and saving them on high capacity hard discs. This
process was intimated by the Supreme Court about 2 years ago under the
supervision of the National Informatics Centre, and now the Delhi High Court has
recently begun this process which is expected to take as many as 5 years for
completion but it is better late than never. After the digitization process is over,
the records of all cases will be digitally stored and can be accessed through a
local are network. Presently, for going through the contents of a case file, the
records have to be physically procured but with digitization, that will, of course,
no longer be necessary. In other words, not only will the digitization process be
beneficial in terms of making much wanted storage space available, but it will
make access to case records easier and faster.

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Issuance of summons and management of the process serving agency


has always been a problem for effective judicial function in most courts in India,
with the exception of the Supreme Court. To remedy this situation an exercise
was carried out in the Delhi District Court to understand the operations of the
process-serving agency and see if its functioning could be improved. A team of
district judges studied the entire working of the agency and prepared a report
which was implemented about a year ago. Within a few months of the
implementation of the report, the rate of service of summons increased from an
estimated 30-35 % to as high as an estimated 90-95%. Essentially, the major
changes suggested were a more scientific distribution of the beats that a
process-server was required to manage, to keep a track of the number of
summons given to him for service and a daily tabulation of his performance. This
simple management exercise was carried out through a software programme
prepared internally by the staff of the Delhi District Court and the programme
really worked wonders in a short span of time. Since the rate of service of
summons has increased tremendously, the disposal of cases has also become a
little faster. There is of course no empirical data available to confirm this, but
anecdotal evidence obtained from discussions with judicial officers in Delhi is that
there has been a considerable speeding up of the justice delivery system through
an improvement in the operations of the process-serving agency. Two lessons
have been learnt from the entire exercise; that given the opportunity, judicial
officers in district courts can deliver the goods, and that any system can be
improved through a study of the needs and requirements of the courts and then
applying the available technology to deliver results.

It is common knowledge that computers can be of tremendous utility


when a repetitive activity is required to be performed; and the preparation of
summons, particularly in cases where there are several defendants or
respondents is nothing but a monotonous and repetitive chore. Instead of having
a court clerk fill out forms of this nature all day long, the burden can easily be
passed on to a computer which can mechanically and tirelessly print out all the
summons much faster than any court clerk. This is of course a very small
example of the use of a computer in the court registry, but when several such

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small examples are added up, it makes a huge difference to the overall efficiency
of the court and its registry.

A unique innovation consisting of setting up of computerized Facilitation


Centres has been successfully tried out in the Delhi District Court on a pilot
basis. In the two pilot Facilitation Centres, information with regard to pending
cases is made available through a single window system to lawyer and litigants,
who only need to make an inquiry with the Information Officer, who in turn
collects the information from the server. The Facilitation Centre has rendered it
unnecessary for lawyers and litigants to directly contact the court staff for
information, thereby saving them from the harassment of being frequently
pestered for information and also reducing attendant malpractices. The setting up
of pilot Facilitation Centres led, inevitably, to the start of an experimental filing
counter within the Facilitation Centre in the district courts in Delhi. The advantage
of the computerized filing counter is that a considerable amount of movement of
lawyers and litigants is reduced, since they are now not required to got from court
to court to present their petitions in what is know as a petition box . The success
of the pilot has resulted in a full fledged Facilitation Centre being set up in the two
court complexes in Tees Hazari and Karkardooma in Delhi. These Facilitation
Centres are now almost ready and are expected to start functioning in early
October after full infrastructure facilities, including computers and a local area
network, are made available. Of course, the Facilitation Centres are really for the
benefit of lawyers and litigants but have the collateral advantage of reducing
interaction between them ( on the one hand) and the court staff ( on the other)
thereby giving the court staff more time to concentrate on their official duties
rather than responding to the requests of lawyers and litigants.

There can be no doubt that a good working Library is absolutely


essential to any institution concerned with law but surprisingly, until a few years
ago libraries in courts did not even feel the need of a computer.. Determined
efforts by the Delhi High Court resulted in compete computerization of its library
with a list of all titles and articles from various journals being available on the
click of a button. The expenses incurred were quite insubstantial since the
software was readily available in the market. Only data entry took some time but

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now that that is over, a completely computerized library is available for use by
judges of the High Court. The success story has been replicated in the libraries in
the district court in Delhi as well as the library of the High Court Bar Association.
The efficiency generated by the use of computers in a library can be imagined by
considering that only one person is required to run a library having a daily
issue/receipt of about 300 books-a number far greater than the requirements of
most courts.

If details of books available in the library could be made accessible


through a computer, only a slight side-step was required to extend the concept
and prepare an inventory of goods and stores available in a court house.
This has since been done. Of course, this has no direct nexus to the functioning
of a court, but it certainly does make the staff of the registry much more
conscious about the utility of computers and encourages them to use computers
for various functions that they are required to perform on a day-to-day basis.

One of the more significant problems that the justice delivery system in
India is faced with relates to the management of witnesses. Despite valuable
inputs, beginning with those given in the 14th Report of the Law Commission
prepared in 1958, the court administration has not been able to come to grip with
the problem of managing the appearance of witnesses for examination and cross
examination. Due to poor court management, the problem is aggravated and
witnesses are required to make fruitless appearance in the Court on several
occasions. Of course, this is an administrative problem that needs to be tackled
independently but for each visit to the court, a witness is entitled to
reimbursement, which is described in some places as diet money and in some
others as bhatta. For the witness to collect the diet money, he is often required
to go through a long drawn-out process that could consume a couple of hours on
every visit. The result is that quite often witnesses do not even bother to collect
their diet money. Through the use of computers, the process has become so
much more simplified that a witness is now in a position to collect the diet money
within a matter of minutes. The details of the witness are available in the
computer at the time of issuing summons to him and when he does appear, all
that he is required to do is to produce an identification document and collect the

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diet money due to him. Since the process is quite rapid, the long queues that
existed prior to the computerization of this process have disappeared.
Many of the ideas and suggestions that have been implemented, as
mentioned above, are so simple and obvious that one wonders why they were
not implemented earlier. The problem really is one of planning and management.
If initiative is taken at any level of the administrative hierarchy of the Court,
professionalism and consequent efficiency is bound to evolve. A few steps of this
nature will by themselves tone up the court administration and thereby the justice
delivery system which is today bogged down by antiquated manual processes
which must give way, sooner than later, to technological advances.

ASSISTING LITIGANTS AND LAWYERS

The principal objective of computerization of courts and introducing the use of


computers in judicial administration is really to benefit the consumers of justice
who are litigants and their lawyers. In fact, this should be the only interest of any
programme of computerization because if the needs of the litigating public are
met, then quite clearly the justice delivery system is working satisfactorily.

With this in mind, the thrust of the computerization process, particularly in


Delhi, has been directed towards disseminating information to litigants as
expeditiously as possible and with as little expense to the litigant as is possible.
One of the first steps that was taken in this regard was to supply to the litigants
an office copy or an uncertified copy of a court order. Usually, most lawyers and
litigants require a copy of the order passed by the court for their records. To
obtain such a copy, it becomes necessary to inspect the court file which in turn
entails locating the court file from the appropriate shelf, sending it to the
inspection room and then getting it back. This movement has been completely
obviated by merely providing a terminal exclusively for the use of supplying
uncertified copies of court orders. An officer having access to a computer is
posted in the Filing Counter of the court and whenever an application for an
uncertified or an office copy of an order is made to him, he merely accesses the
server and gives a print out of the court order for a small fee. The supply of the

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order is possible almost immediately but due to administrative reasons, it is
normally made available the next day. Even this has now become unnecessary
because orders delivered by the court are posted on the website of the courts,
particularly the Delhi High Court and the Delhi District Court. Unless it is
necessary for a litigant or lawyer, files are not now usually inspected, nor are
uncertified copies applied for.

The communication of information has been carried a step further at least


in one district in the State of Maharashtra where electronic kiosks have been
installed within the court premises. These kiosks contain a touch screen and by
entering the appropriate query regarding a pending case, the answer is made
available, though not in a printed form. This is an extremely innovative use of
technology and hardware and this deserves to be encouraged all over the
country. The Delhi District Court plans to take advantage of these electronic
kiosks in its various court complexes and particularly in the Facilitation Centres
that will be set up in the near future.

The use of the Internet has been a tremendous boon for litigants and
lawyers inasmuch as the websites hosted by the Supreme Court of India, all the
High Court in the country and the Delhi District Court contain all relevant
information that any lawyer or litigant may require. Readers are advised to visit
these websites in order to enable them to appreciate the effective utilization of
the Internet. In the website hosted by the Delhi District Courts, over the last about
three years, more than 350,000- hits have been recorded making it by far the
most popular website in the country relating to judicial administration. The
websites, particularly that of the Delhi District Court, contain not only the recent
decisions rendered by the Delhi High Court but also decisions rendered by
judicial officers in the district courts. In addition, there is adequate information
available on the website for the use of any person who may perhaps be involved
in litigation for the first time. The annual report of the Delhi District Courts as well
as sundry information have all been provided for in the website. Of course, there
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www.delhihighcourt.nic.in
www.supremecourtofindia.nic.in

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is always room for improvement and more and more features can be added on to
the district courts website from time to time, as indeed to other websites
managed by all the courts in the Country.

In criminal cases, the biggest problem faced by most courts is the presence of
stock witness and in matters concerning grant of bail, the reliability of the
surety. Both these problems are easily tackled through the computer system by
maintaining a complete database of witnesses and sureties. A simple search
command can bring out all the information that a court would need about the
witnesses and the cases in which they are appearing as such, thereby
eliminating the presence of stock witnesses. Similarly, a search command can
identify all sureties so that the professional ones are eliminated from
consideration. Of course necessary programmes would have to be developed for
this purpose and the National Informatics Centre is going about this job in Delhi.
CONCLUSION

The advent of computers in courts and judicial administration may have


been an emerging technology a few years ago, but they are very much in place
today and with some painstaking effort, the technology can be exploited for the
benefit of all stakeholders in the justice delivery system. Advances in technology
make it easier to perform some of the existing tasks and generate new ideas for
execution, provided that existing technology is being utilized at least to some
extent. Experience gained from the courts in several parts of India suggest that
the justice delivery system at the grass root level is now desirous of
implementing technological reforms and only a slight push is necessary to set the
ball rolling. The greater the delay in introducing technology at that, or any other
level, the more difficult it will be for the judicial administrators to catch up, let
alone make any progress.
However, it needs to be appreciated that it is not as if acquisition
of hardware and preparation of software is enough to resolve the problems
relating to efficiency in judicial administration or backlog and delays. Training is
an extremely important aspect of any programme relating to the use of
computers in the justice delivery system. Effective training is a continuing

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process, like judicial education, and needs to be sustained over a period of time
and requires the active involvement of users. If adequate attention is not given to
training, then it is more than likely that the use of technology in courts will not
yield the desired result and will merely be a waste of resources.

It is also imperative to realize that in many countries of our region the


courts are overburdened with a large number of cases and huge delays, and so
they need to adopt a multi-pronged and multi-disciplinary strategy to tackle the
malaise and the use of information and communication technology is only one of
such solutions. It will only enable management of knowledge through collection
of vital information which can then be analyzed and used to solve the problem of
delay and backlog, and for this a start has to be made somewhere. Even if the
first few steps are tentative, as long as they are taken, it may well go a long way
in giving relief to litigants who are compelled to wait for several years before
justice is delivered to them.