Digital Courts: Future of The Indian Legal System

June 27, 2024

India has been out on the digitalization journey for years. Its administration in the judiciary got a major thrust after COVID-19. This brought about a golden opportunity to ease and speed up the case filings as well as their hearing through the digital courts. In India, the e-governance system in the Indian legal system started in the late 1990s. It caught up in acceleration after the enactment and enforcement of the Information Technology Act in the year 2000. e-Courts were launched in the year 2006. This was a part of the National e-governance plan.

What are Digital Courts?

Digital courts as the name suggests use various software and technologies to function remotely. This was introduced as the Green Initiative of India to reduce the use of paper and to accelerate the adjudication of the plethora of pending cases by the litigants sitting at home. Digital courts function just as the physical courts the difference being that they work on virtual platforms. There are two components of the digital courts namely: the digital courts web portal and the digital courts desktop app.

Advantages of Digital Courts:

  • Increased Efficiency: Digital courts save a lot of time that is given to travel to reach the physical court by litigants, advocates, Judges, and other court members. This eases the mode of operating case management through automation and also saves time in accessing case files which is also done through a virtual platform. This increases the efficiency and speeds up the disposal of the cases.
  • Improved Accessibility: The cases in digital courts are managed through automated platforms and the files are also available to be accessed through virtual mediums. This helps in accessibility. The litigants also have ease of access to the court hearings which is otherwise difficult due to the uneven distribution of conventional physical courts.
  • Enhanced Transparency: Every detail of the case is stored on the virtual platform and the case and case files management system is automated through various apps which ensures transparency. This also presents a safer environment for the witnesses to present their testimonials.
  • Cost Reduction: A huge amount of expenditure is involved in the process of the adjudication of the case, including the travel expenses of the people involved to the use of amenities of the courts and papers. Virtual courts reduce this cost. Especially in the stages of appeals and final hearings cost of commute is entirely cut out.
  • Sustainability and Environmental Impact: There are numerous amount of use of papers that goes into court matters. Considering the plethora and number of pending cases and the record of previously disposed cases is humungous. This only shows the direct proportion of the trees being cut down to generate that amount of paper. Hence, digital courts help in sustainability and help in the process of going paperless which reduces the negative impact on the environment.
  • Reducing Backlogs and Improving Judicial Reach: The digital courts help in the adjudication of cases with the use of minimum resources. They save the commute and waiting time and help all the litigants in proportionate access to the courts. This helps in the reduction of the pendency and also improves the judicial reach.

Shift Towards Digital Courts

The digitalization of courts in India began in the year 2006 with the initiative to progress towards a green nation but the shift towards digital/virtual courts came with COVID-19. The pandemic set the stage for the full-fledged use of e-governance in the judiciary arena. Digital justice is being taken care of through the establishment of e-courts in various parts of the country.

Many legal tech start-ups have been set up that are offering services like legal research and legal automation systems for documentation. The implementation of digital identity projects has set foundation for the secure identification verification. This shift was also possible due to the Bar Council’s Initiatives for legal technology. This shift also gives legal aid to the marginal section of society through organizations like the National Legal Services Authority through their digital platforms. When the courts went live, the Supreme Court allowed the plaintiffs to appear through the Video apps. Several High Courts of various States employed their technology to conduct court hearings.

The future of the Indian Legal System through Digital Courts looks promising. The advancements in technology, government initiatives, and the rising demand for a more efficient and accessible legal system. The future is secure because various technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, virtual reality, augmented reality, data analytics and many more technologies as such are actively a part of the Indian Courts. The technology that is being used for legal matters are benefitting in the case management, legal research, online dispute resolution, e-filling, e-Challan, and many more as such.

The Supreme Court of India has also embraced the technology by giving judgments through online portals and have also agreed upon live streaming which is kind of a revolutionary thing to do. The Supreme Court also uses various technological tools and have also advised other law firms to use, some of those are e-Court Projects, SUVAS (Supreme Court Vidhik Anuvaad Software), SUPACE (Supreme Court Portal for Assistance in Court’s Efficiency).

As the importance of digitalizing the courts for better functioning and quick solutions are increasing, more and more software as well as technologies are coming into the picture. Thus, the future from here on is going to be efficient, seamless, and easy to access.

Role of Digital Law Libraries in Supporting Digital Courts

  • Streamlined Legal Research: The e-Courts make use of the cloud-based software to store the case-related data which makes the data more streamlined and helps in the easy research of any document or case files.
  • Enhancing Accessibility and Flexibility: It helps the general public to access the cases and enhance legal knowledge. Any person for free or with minimal subscription can have access to any recent cases or legal knowledge.
  • Enabling Efficient Case Management: Every information and document related to the cases can be stored in the cloud set-up and can be easily made accessible to the litigants and court members. It has made the process of file storage hassle-free.
  • Up-to-Date Information: Every information and case progression are instantly updated on the software and is made up-to-date. This reduces the backlogging of any data on any hearing.
  • Building a Robust Digital Legal Ecosystem: The e-courts or digital courts have made the legal system much more robust, updated, and hassle-free. It has reduced the over-working of the court members, especially in terms of documentation and case file management, and has also accelerated the case hearings.

LexisNexis Digital Legal Library

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Conclusion

To conclude, it is safer to say that the future of the Indian Legal system can reach great heights and is reaching greater heights already with the adoption of Digital Courts. The amalgamation of technology with the judicial processes promises to enhance efficiency, capability, accessibility, and transparency in the journey of justice. Digital Courts can fasten up the backlog cases thereby reinforcing public trust in the legal system. And LexisNexis will be the absolutely best platform for 10x faster and efficient results with Lexis Advance.

As India progresses towards a phenomenal digitally empowered judiciary, addressing challenges related to digital literacy, cyber laws, and digital infrastructure is vital to ensure the smooth and easy implementation of Digital Courts. To embrace this transformation means supporting the new era of legal system that would uphold the principles of Justice and the rule of law in the Digital Era.

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