As per the present defective judiciary standards followed by Indian Courts, the public, at large, are suffering from undue delays in disposal of cases. There are lots of pending cases in every Court including Supreme Court of India. It has become the order of the day to hold the cases in Courts for years together, and sometimes even for decades together. With such undue delay, the sanctum of the judiciary is shrinking down day by day. In turn, it is resulting in a criminal friendly atmosphere and the aggrieved are put to suffer lot more.
In a nutshell, there are various factors contributing to the undue delay in disposal of cases in Courts. Leaving all other factors aside for the time being, now, here, let me focus on I.T. implementation to fall in line with the Global standards, at least, on this IT front.
Though Information Technology has taken its roots in the country way back of about 4 decades, still the Courts sit at the back benches. There is a lot to be done in this area. I try to give a few suggestions for the purpose.
1. To begin with, Lawyers are to be facilitated to register their credentials in the e-courts website with full particulars of their bio-data like BAR Council No, Qualification Certificates, Residential proof like Aadhaar No. etc and after verifying the details furnished, they should be provided with log in the facility.
2. Once log in the facility is authorized, they should have facilities to upload the presentations of their cases and to see all the case details, presentations & documents uploaded by other lawyers, and to obtain the CA copies online.
3. Digital communication system like emails and SMS have to be implemented fast to disseminate the information from the Court about the date of postings, cause lists, special conditions of the purpose of posting if any etc.
4. Similarly, lawyer can cite cross-reference of any document of any case in other cases. The mere citation is sufficient, rather than producing/uploading the CA copies again. The court staff / Magistrate & other judiciaries can login and view the respective document as a cross check.
5. Every Judge / Officer of the Courts and all the lawyers have to be provided with digital signatures.
6. Personal attendance of lawyers and his clients has to be restricted only at the initial stages of filing new cases, adducing oral evidence wherever essential.
7. The attendance of the lawyers, clients and witnesses has to be recorded through the biometric system. During the first time attendance of client and witnesses, the respective Aadhaar card particulars are to be fed and the copy has to be uploaded as a pdf file.
8. Biometrics attendance system has to be implemented to not only to the Court staff/officers, but also to the clients and their lawyers when they attend the court. This will avoid impersonation of accused / other clients. Attendance of those persons is also recorded in the particular case records in the computer.
9. At present, there are no time norms for disposal of cases. After implementing the technology to the optimum level, Procedural Law has to be changed to the extent that Time norms are to be fixed to the Courts for disposal of cases depending upon the type of cases and status of courts. For example, in lower courts simple civil cases of land disputes, encroachments etc. 3 months. Family cases: 6 months. Criminal cases: maximum 6 months. High Court: writ petitions: 1 week. Civil cases: 3 months, family cases: 6 months, criminal cases: maximum 6 months. Whenever the case is adjourned or posted for a next date, normally it should not exceed one week.
10. CCTV cameras are to be provided in each court hall and the arguments/presentations of clients in person and of their lawyers are to be recorded in camera instead of doing bundles of paperwork.
11. Similarly, Courts have to adopt modern administrative standards by conducting mediation process at a single sitting in camera and judgments are to be put online.
12. In family cases divorce matters, wherever it is feasible, the Courts can suggest and try to unite the divided couple in a single counseling session in camera as a first step of case solving. This will work better rather than allowing the lawyers to drag the cases for years together. After examining and interacting with the couples for a few minutes, the Courts can issue Decree of Divorce immediately and close the case fast. After issuing the Decree of Divorce, if the same couple decides to unite back, it is a welcome step and it should be permitted to be registered with Registrar of Marriages duly uploading the matter with Aadhaar data.
13. Multiplication of cases has to be avoided. All the family cases with different aspects/titles are to be merged together in place of the present multiplication practice of DVC, Divorce OP, Criminal cases like IPC.498A etc. Only one nomenclature 'Family Case' is to come into force.
14. Now that the Government has issued Aadhaar Cards to all the citizens, the public /Registrar of Marriages have to upload the matrimonial details of spouse immediately after marriage. Similarly, the Courts have to upload the case reference number and brief details of all types of cases including, civil, criminal and family cases in the master data. That should be visible to the authorized lawyers / Meeseva centers for cross verification and checking the antecedents of the persons.
15. The courts have to dispense with the present day ritual of roll-calling daily morning hours simply to give some new posting date. The personal presence of the clients is to be restricted only to the extent the number of cases that can be dealt with by the courts and finished to a logical end on that particular day.
16. Online filing of FIR should be adopted by all the Police Stations across the country and should be linked to the respective Court.
17. All convicted criminals should be allotted with a permanent criminal record number so that all his future crimes should be recorded in the same master file. This CR No. has to be linked to Aadhaar Master Data. These criminals should be barred from all subsidies, concessions, etc from the Government.
18. Each Court has to be provided with an IT engineer to coordinate the IT matters of such particular court and to assist the other Court staff/officers working with systems.
19. The Courts' hardware/software are to be of latest standards with multiple screen attachments/ skype/video conferencing facilities. Provision for storage of heavy data is to be taken care.
20. The oral arguments, if permitted, should be done through SKYPE / Video conferencing at a pre-fixed time without attending the Court in person by the lawyers and clients and the same are to be saved in the respective case file.
To conclude, all the concerned authorities at the helm of affairs have to take the task on priority and strive hard to keep the image of the judiciary system at high in the public minds.