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Programme

2013 -14

INTERIM REPORT

FOR

NeGP MMP: eCourts

BY

DR. B. C. ROY ENGINEERING COLLEGE

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INTRODUCTION

Before any Discussion about E-Courts we first need t o familiarize ourselves with Traditional Court process and the need for E-Court.s First of all, any court process deals with involvement of human resource of severa ll evels of the governing body. Refining the term Human Resource in this context rw e ef er to judges, lawyers, police, victim, criminal / accused and also civilia ns. The court can deal with several types of cases which may be Criminal or Civil in n a ture. Though there are a lot of variations, a very few common crimes are listed below.

Criminal Cases may include:

  • Financial Fraud

  • Bank Robbery

  • Counterfeiting

  • Kidnapping

  • Committing a crime on government property

  • Theft

  • Using unauthorized firearms

Civil Cases may include:

  • Suing for property damage

  • Issues regarding freedom of speech

  • Religious conicts

So

it

can

said

that

a civil

case is when two people

t a k ee each

other

to

court, a

criminal case is when the city/state/federal government takes someone into court.

Now after this brief discussion regarding the basic traditional court process, we can get further into the procedures and E-Court requirements and other issues.

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Interim Report on NeGP MMP: eCourts

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HIERARCHY OF COURTS IN INDIA Fig.1. shows the owchart depicting the hierarchy of courts in India. We can see that Supreme Court is the highest priority court in India situated in Delhi. Next come the High Courts, which are almost at every state of India, specifically one High Court per one state. Most low level of courts is District Courts and Local/Regional Courts where the first filing of any case is taken into account. HISTORY The Indian judiciary comprises of nearly 15,000 courts situated in approximately 2,500 court complexes throughout the country. The total no. of pending cases in these Courts as on 01.01.2005 was 2, 94, and 97,251.

In the Indian Judiciary, effort for computerization of some of its processes has been going on since 1990. From 2001-03, 700 city courts in four metros were computerized and during 2003-04, computerization of another 900 courts were undertaken.

Need was felt to make the programme of ICT enablement of the Indian Judiciary mission-critical. Under NeGP as a MMP, it is proposed to implement ICT in Indian judiciary in three phases over a period of five years. The project scope is to develop, deliver, install and implement automated decision making and decision support system in 700 courts of Delhi, Bombay, Kolkata & Chennai; 900 courts in the 29 capital city courts of states and UTs and 13000 district and subordinate courts. The e-Courts project was conceptualized on the basis of the “National Policy and Action Plan for Implementation of information and communication technology (ICT) in

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Interim Report on NeGP MMP: eCourts

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Indian Judiciary – 2005” submitted by e-Committee (Supreme Court of India), with a vision to transform the Indian Judiciary by ICT enablement of Courts. As on 31st January 2014, 13,227 district & subordinate have been computerized in the country. It is proposed to complete computerization of remaining Courts by 31st March, 2014. The basic infrastructure for ICT enablement consists of various modules such as setting up of LAN and Hardware, deployment of Case Information Software (CIS) application software, and establishment of WAN / broadband connectivity.

MOST ESSENTIAL REQUIREMENTS Managing the whole trial process of a court, when carried out electronically, deals with the extensive use of secure networks and communication capabilities. Most desirable management can be achieved if every layer of whole system of governance can be assisted with same kind of technology and they must be interconnected so as to provide transparency within governing sectors. First of all there should exist a central database that will contain all the necessary rules and as amendments occur they need to be updated every time. The access to this database should be public, so as to maintain transparency of governance.

Next there should exist a reference database that will contain all the references lawyers use to carry out a trial. This database should be remotely available to all the courts and the regional changes in certain laws and reference should also be attached within that. The update process of this database is critical as it will deal with large amount of data which is of varied nature and proper authentication is needed to successfully update it.

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Interim Report on NeGP MMP: eCourts

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Finally all the people of the governing body should have access to high tech terminals so as to always monitor the process of e-trial. There must exist a strong communication channel when remote trials are carried out or else delay can convey wrong information leading to wrong judgments.

After all these there exists the security aspect. The databases must be protected from illegal use and as all levels of governance will have access to them so there must exist some access constraints, where most of the levels will have a read-only access so that the sensitive data within the databases is not manipulated leading to serious disorder in the trial process and will eventually affect the governance. Below there is a brief discussion about what inuence can technology can have over the traditional court system.

The system application is broadly categorized in four major privileges areas interlinked with courtroom operations. They are Judge, Administrator, Courtroom staff (Steno, Almad, Reader, etc.) and other users (like Public prosecutor, lawyers). Application features are made available as per there functions and defined roles and responsibilities. Some of the major tasks of the entire workow are explained below:

Digitization of Case files A scanning room has been created inside the courtroom where case files are brought first. The case files are then scanned & digitized and uploaded in encrypted form on centralized storage server so that authorized person can access the case files through the software interface. In earlier system, bringing the case files from store room take lots of efforts which can be saved now. Here authorized user can access the case files from anywhere on a single click.

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Interim Report on NeGP MMP: eCourts

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Paperless Deposition The proceedings of court are completely paperless. The deposition is typed by steno on computer and the draft deposition is visible to the Judge and to the lawyers on their screen. Once the draft is approved, the deposition is then digitally signed by Judge. This file is then uploaded & gets appended in to the case file.

Recording of court proceedings The court proceedings can be recorded with multiple high quality PTZ camera through interface provided to Judge. The recordings are also kept in encrypted form on server. The user can access these recordings from the software interface which makes the user (Judge) ashback easily that what happened last time in this case and easily track the progress of the case.

Video conferencing Using video conferencing any person can give his/her deposition from remote place. He/she just needs a video conferencing setup either hardware or software based with internet connection. Initially three hospitals, FSL, two police stations and jail are connected to e- Court for video conferencing. Producing accused/witness every time in court consumes enormous amount of resources (transportation cost, security time and manpower etc) of the government, Using Video conferencing, they can give their deposition from hospitals and jails.

Evidences capture Technology provided imaging solutions for evidences and documents to court. The images from police, hospitals reports etc. can be uploaded from camera or any other imaging source. There is one visualizer to view & capture evidences and indexed with the in court case records. Provision for DVD writing

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If any person (lawyer or concerned person) wants digital documents or videos of case, there is provision of providing required data on a CD/DVD, instead of using volatile storage devices.

Data sharing from remote location The police, hospital staff and other civil places can remotely upload the documents or view the documents.

Court live proceedings The court’s live proceedings can be seen on courts website by authorized person. If any person (lawyer or concerned person) wants to see live proceedings, he/she has to fill an online Registration form and after reviewing the application by administrator, access can be given to person for the particular case.

ESSENTIAL REQUIREMENTS The different layers of governance should be assisted by technically skilled people so that no error occurs because of technical difficulties.

Every level should be made aware in the basics of using any technology based on computers which will help them to co-relate themselves during a trial in the court. An e-filing system should be implemented which will allow any person to lodge a complaint against any crime online instead of going to the police station as the first step. This will be a much faster way to make the police aware of any crime. Though only filing a report online will not do, there must be a physical presence of both the witness/person who lodges the complaint and the police officials at a later stage but as an initial step the e-filing which the first step of the e-court process is much more effective.

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Application software This software is to be developed by NIC under the guidance of e-committee.NIC aims at designing a unified software and schema so that this would help in integration of the courts and easy transfer of cases between different courts. Application software will be based on common data structures and functionality. the commonly used platforms for developing these softwares are oracle php ,mysql in the front end and PERL , PSP, ASP in the back end.

Technical manpower Skilled professionals will be deployed at the courts to train the judges and the court staffs and to maintain the ICT infrastructures such as printers, scanners LAN, internet connectivity, communication devices, etc

Technical Basics Workshops All the traditional Human Resource involved in the court process must be trained by technically sound professionals so that they can be aware about the working and functionality of any application software used in the trial process.This is must to ensure that no human defined error happens during any court proceedings.Though there are technical people's assistance throughout any court process, but it is essential that every person involved should be made a tech savvy so as to keep a constant and uid work-ow. DESIREABLE REQUIREMENTS After all the above discussions still there is a lot to be done when met with the actual circumstances. Changing a entire traditional system suddenly with electronic system will not be a feasible solution when all of the human resource belonging to the traditional governance is unaware of the usage of the advanced technology and

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they must either learn it completely or can work with the guidance of skilled technical hands. The security aspects are a major issue while maintaining the reference database and knowledge base, advanced encryption must be implemented to protect the data from being manipulated by external media. The traditional governance cannot provide security to the digital system, rather they can help it to sustain and work effectively. Finally it is sure that implementation of e-courts is effective and fast but both the traditional and digital domains must merge and work collaboratively to successfully run this service. Computer Server rooms (CSR) Judicial Service Centers (JSC) would set up in all the court complexes. All judicial officers would be provided with laptops. Digital interconnectivity would be established between all courts from the taluka level to the apex court. The project also aims at creation of e-filing facility in the Supreme Court & high courts. The first phase also envisages development of comprehensive & integrated Customized software application for the entire judicial system with regional languages support. It would be possible to provide ICT coverage of judicial process from filing to execution level & also of all administrative activities and creation of information gateways between courts, public agencies & departments. The project is expected to lead to complete demystification of the adjudicatory process thereby ensuring transparency, accountability & cost-effectiveness. TRIALS AT A GLANCE Fig.2. clearly depicts a court trial procedure in step by step manner. This particular diagram specifically focuses on a Criminal Trial, but as for any civil trial, most of it

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is in a generalized way, so any civil trial will be up to some extent same as this as shown. eCOURTS CONCEPT CATEGORIZATION - MOST ESSENTIAL Advocate A person authorized to appear in a litigation on behalf of a party. An advocate possesses a law degree and is enrolled with a Bar Council, as prescribed by the Advocates Act, 1961. Advocates are the only class of persons legally entitled to practice law. They provide legal advice.

Challan It is the police report filed under Section 173(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 after making investigation into the commission of an offence.

Cause List List issued by the Registry of the matters to be heard by the court on any day. The bench, courtroom number and the position of the matter are indicated. The cause list may take myriad forms: weekly list, advance list, supplementary list and the daily list.

Cause Title Title of the case giving the number of the case and the names of the parties. Epistolary Jurisdiction A term referring to change in the procedure of the courts allowing letters to be treated as writ petitions. Notification

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Notice, information or announcement published in the official gazette notifying, for instance, the coming into effect of a changed law. Registry This is the administrative machinery of a Court which deals with the filing, registering and listing of cases, issuing copies of orders and notices to parties, maintaining and preserving records. The Registry is also responsible for the maintenance and security of the court premises. It is headed by a Registrar General or a Registrar. eCOURTS CONCEPT CATEGORIZATION - ESSENTIAL Admission After a case is registered it is placed before the Court for its hearing, known as the preliminary hearing. The Court considers whether the case should be proceeded with by directing the respondents to show -cause why the petition should not be admitted. Adversarial Procedure A way of adjudicating a dispute in which one party asserts a claim or a right, and the other denies it. The dispute is usually resolved by the acceptance of one claim and the rejection of the other, making the proceedings adversarial. This is recognized in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 and the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908. See inquisitorial proceedings. Affidavit This is a sworn statement made by a party, in writing, made in the presence of an oath commissioner or a notary public which is used either in support of applications

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to the Court or as evidence in court proceedings. In writ jurisdiction, cases are generally disposed of on the basis of affidavits. Commission A commission is appointed by a court to ascertain or investigate facts needed to decide a case. A commission is usually given specific terms of reference. Members of a commission have been chosen from amongst experts, academics, social activists/workers, advocates, judges and others. Costs of the commission are usually borne by the State. Such commissions have often been appointed in PILs. Court Master An officer of the court who occupies a seat just below the judges’ Dias and assists in the conduct of proceedings. Grounds These are the reasons or justifications in law, stated in a petition to a court, on the basis of which reliefs are asked from the Court. Inquisitorial Proceedings Fact-finding proceedings, not necessarily involving disputing parties. The Court investigates and ascertains the facts of a matter, for instance by appointing Commissions, which are given specific terms of reference. Often faced with difficulty in getting all the information necessary to resolve the issues brought in PIL, the Court has found this procedure to be convenient. Interim Order Any order by a court before a final order is made. Judicial Review

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A term that describes the function of the judiciary being able to examine and correct the actions of all the organs of State—the executive, the legislature and the judiciary itself. Judicial review is part of the basic structure of the Indian Constitution. Junior Advocate Any advocate, who wants to practice law, enrolls with a Bar Council and generally begins work in the office of a practicing advocate. Jurisdiction This indicates the scope and extent of a court’s powers. For instance, a court only has territorial jurisdiction within the territory over which its powers extend.

Stay Order A party filing a petition may require some immediate relief, even before the respondents can be heard or a final decision given. An application is filed seeking an interim order either to prevent the respondents from performing an action that will affect the rights of the petitioner or to prevent an order from being carried out.

eCOURTS CONCEPT CATEGORIZATION - DESIRABLE e-Reference E-reference can be used as term to imply any reference which is stored electronically that is required at the time of trial by the advocate or lawyer. e-Files E-files refers to the electronically stored files containing laws and rules which are constantly updated over time and monitored for any amendments and these E-files can be the main source of information regarding any court issue or trial process.

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EXISTENCE OF E-COURT In North-East India, under Gauhati High Court, Kamrup District court of Assam is being considered as the pilot site under e-Courts project. The Site preparation work including ICT room construction, deployment and installation of various Hardware and Networking items including Touch screen Kiosk information systems, implementation of CIS software are already done in various court complexes in Kamrup district as well as in various district courts. Various objectives under e- Courts project has already been attained in Kamrup district Judiciary. The Judges and court staffs are being trained on various modules of e-Courts project. The Judges are being provided with personal laptop, laser printer and internet connectivity under the e-Courts project. The website for Kamrup District Judiciary has already been hosted by the name “www.kamrupjudiciary.gov.in” and is being fully functional. Daily causelists, judgments and various key informations are being uploaded on daily basis. Kiosks Information Systems are being installed in various court complexes under Kamrup district judiciary, which helps the litigants and lawyers not only to search the case status using either case number and year or petitioner/respondent’s name but also to check daily orders and judgments. The major developments under e-Courts project are already being completed in Kamrup District Judiciary and hence witnessing the work progress, on 27th September 2011, Hon’ble Chief Justice of Gauhati High Court, Mr. M. B. Lokur in presence of the other Hon’ble Judges of Gauhati High Court inaugurated the ICT rooms, Kiosk Information Systems and the Kamrup District Judiciary website of various court complexes under Kamrup district.

OUTCOME OF E-COURT The entire existing files in Karkardooma e-Court have been digitized and a touch

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screen has been installed on the dais of Judge. He can view any file of the e-Court in digitized form by searching for the same date-wise, name-wise or Act/Section wise. There is a provision of a document visualizer and any document can be projected on the LCD Screens installed in the e-Court, so that the same are visible to the accused, witnesses or the prosecutor in the same Court, as well as when they are connected through Video-Conferencing. Other stakeholders of the case can have access to e-Files using secure login and password. The overall impact of establishment of e-Court will result in quick disposal of cases, ease of record maintenance, reliability of the evidence recorded and to bring more transparency in the functioning of the District Courts.

OTHER BENEFITS

  • Reduced paper work.

  • Ease of record maintenance i.e. Alow the judges to see e-files for review.

  • Can be used by judge, judicial fraternity to review the case.

  • Use as a backup by concern persons who have some doubt about the authenticity of the documents.

  • Different courts will be able to share the information online.

  • Playback live proceedings for court audience.

  • Use of digital signature & encryption for integrity of documents.

  • Tool for Education & Training of judicial officers and courtroom personnel.

  • Doctors need not to cancel appointments for critical/emergency patients.

  • Court, Hospitals, FSL, Jail can simultaneously share their presentations/documents and other information online in a secured mode.

  • Remote parties can depose through Video Conferencing facility using ISDN and Broadband links in e-Court.

  • The documents of high secrecy which cannot be moved out of the department but needs to be shared with other agencies can be directly presented and

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discussed upon.

  • System will increase physical security of doctors by not visiting the court thereby avoiding any physical presence in front of the accused or criminals.

  • Doctors can depose and give expert opinion in much more relaxed and conducive environment.

  • System can be used for other medical benefits other than the judicial matters.

  • Travel and other related cost will be saved.

  • Efficient Data management through the Application Software. The main benefits of proper Data management approach includes daily causelist and court diary generation, periodical statements, automatic marking of cases, year wise judge-wise casetype-wise pending case statements generation, provisions are also made to generate automated summons, warrants and notice generation all at the press of a single button. CONCLUSION This is a state-of-the-art technique for introducing ICT in Indian courts for digitally preserving case files and visual information in chronological sequence. The design will help our judicial system to streamline and accelerate their operation and case disposal rate in secure and cost effective manner. With the growth of Information and Communication technology in India, it is just a matter of time how fast the e-Courts works will grow in Judiciary System in India. But with the Judges and court staffs being serious and more concerned in today’s working environments, nothing seems to be impossible and the goal of the e- Courts project could be attained soon. Fast and fair trial has always been a long awaited dream for the citizens in India. The experience of a person undergoing trial has never been pleasant so far. Hence

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Interim Report on NeGP MMP: eCourts

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there is a need of ICT enablement of Indian Judiciary for trails to be quicker. It is hoped that in the coming time, e-Courts will prove to be a landmark in the life of the

people and transform their anticipations into reality.

ILLUSTRATIONS

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Fig.1. Flowchart depicting the hierarchy of courts in India

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Fig.2. Court trial procedure