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Role of Information Technology in dispensation of Justice

Truth, Justice and Bliss are the basic and fundamental nature of every human being and the social order. Illegality, injustice and disharmony are choice-less evils that continue to come into existence in the individual and the society. Judges, Advocates and others associated with them, continue to work as kidneys of the system, to detox the society. Conflicts, clashes and litigation have continued, since human civilization came into existence. Contract was created when Shri Ram hugged Sugreev and Vibheeshan and promised them to be made the king of Kishkindha and Sri Lanka respectively. A breach would have led to litigation and during that time resolved by the power of sword, than the power of pen. Justice was done when Shri Ram executed Raavan, for he had brought about a total imbalance in the economic structure, by amassing almost the entire gold existing on earth. Legal relationships, laws, litigation and justice existed even when Information Technology was not existing and was than more effective, efficient and economical.

In this yug, the age of IT started in 1955 when the number of white collar employees surpassed the blue collar, in USA and Europe. When I joined the profession in 1976 in Supreme Court, the settlement of weekly cause list was carried out by the Registrar at 4:30 pm on every Thursday in the Chief Justice Court. I had inherited AIR from 1914 onwards, had purchased SCR, Supreme Court Encyclopedia by Gopala Krishnan provided nominal Table Index, Basu and Mullah were the authenticated Text Books and Manuals were the source of finding the precedents. The only way to remain updated and to refrain from cutting a sorry figure and look around when the judge said “have you looked into the latest judgment delivered by us”, was to go through the cyclostyled judgments circulated by SCBA and regularly maintain personal registers.  As juniors, we had to run from court to court and shake shoulders of our colleague to find out, which matter was going on in the court and go back and tell our senior that he need to rush or need not rush to that court. Sometimes the matter was already over by the time he could reach. The bare acts were barely available.

Today all that looks ancient, we get bookmarked cause list on our mobiles, judgments can be found on tablets and electronic display system helps us to watch other court even when we are on our legs in the court room. Statutes are available within hours of their receiving the assent of the President. But the judges are overburdened by number of briefs and judgments and are at times conscious about the mounting arrears while disposing the cases. The judges have to read much more today, to have a total portrait of the true facts, keep their head high and impart justice without compromising with their conscience, than their predecessors and one basic reason for that, is explosion of information all around in multiple formats.

Three things are basic, fundamental and vital in every litigation and must never be lost sight off.
First, nobody loves advocates. Nobody would enter the office of an advocate unless he is in real trouble, unless his shoe is pinching and the nail is not decipherable and professional legal help is required to resolve the issue and put life in order. There comes the role of the advocates.
Second, every law or litigation comes into existence because there is suppression of a will, exploitation of a being by another and the cry has gone unheard because of some person dominating the existing social forces, by inhuman means. There comes the role of the Judges.
Third, all judges at all times, sitting in the temple of justice, see the cause and also see the persons and issues behind the cause and also the direction in which the society is moving and make all out efforts to do complete justice between the parties. That is how and why truth and justice exist and we still have a hope.

The litmus test of evolution and eminence of every institution today and hereafter will be the extant of use of information technology made by its stake holders.  It is not difficult to fully understand, appreciate and implement the extant of use of IT in dispensation of justice, as there is no rocket science involved in it. The difficulty is in making the stakeholders’ use it in every field of their activities. Use of IT in courts by NIC will not alone be effective unless, advocates and their clerks are well trained and tuned to use it.

Use of IT is a great bounty in the hands of us all, as it can be effectively used for collating, organizing and interlinking information. But a few things are imperative and if we do not pursue them, IT will be there but not as handmade to justice, but as money spinner for IT Consultants, hardware manufacturers and others and a fashion statement by flashing light on our own face and saying ‘Look! We also use IT”. We have to have a correct complete and overall picture of the entire litigating process, with the role of each stake holder well defined and the most important is the economics of each stakeholder. Every stakeholder in the legal industry is not working as an NGO, using tax payers money as grants or charities, but we are all here as professionals who are paid for speaking the truth and we demand respect and reverence, for we hold self – esteem, dignity and pride, in what we do. Finally we have to watch the vested interest of those who survive on chaos, confusion and commotion and those who are supporting them consciously, unconsciously or even remotely, for their interest is to lead the institution to legal rigor mortis and disgrace.

Look around and see if over 300 existing vacancies of judges in High Courts are not filled, because the issue is referred to a constitutional bench or otherwise, if cases are not determined speedily, if justice is not imparted in time, who is empowered. The answer is obvious, all those elements, whose very existence is based on presence of injustice, exploitation and poverty in the society and they are everywhere, from politics to beggars. Social predators continue to wait for assignment of throwing out tenants, recovery of created and illegal debts, holdings bandhs and gherao, shouting slogans, stalling court proceedings, making government fall and making the great nation look mean and small and IT makes such information available, easier and faster.

The installation of electronic display devices in 1986 in Supreme Court giving court number and item number was the first step in making use of IT and today we can get live display boards of all the courts on our mobile is a long leap, but that took more than 25 years. From getting judgments of courts on the tablets in a structured format to the ultimate, introduction of Artificial Intelligence in litigation is a long way to go and will take another 25 years or more, if we start today. Some of the countries are already using Artificial Intelligence for last over a decade in sentencing policy and other areas.
 IT can be implemented for dispensing justice by moving information seamlessly in the following manner with ease, if there is a Will to do it:

  • Providing Neutral Citation for all judgments delivered by Supreme Court and 24 High Courts, to eliminate the chaos created by over 600 law reports published all over the country and now web judgments. All giving their own independent citations. Neutral Citation was implemented in Canada, UK, USA and Canada in year 2000, we are just 15 years behind
  •  Creating database of judgments on each subject and issues and linking them with the subject index used in the court for classification of cases and making the data available to Advocates. This will bring more uniformity in decision making process and assist Advocates to give meaningful legal opinion to their clients;
  • Entering DIN Number, PAN Number, Adhaar Card No. or any other identifiable number of each litigant, witness, deponent in each litigation and have a common linked database on litigating persons and those associated with them. We have over three crore pending cases and if we are able to create the interlinking database, believe you, me friends, we will be able to filter about thirty lakh professional criminals and professional litigants
  • Creating a common database of litigation in which Government or any Article 12 Authority is a party and sharing it between Courts, Government Department, PSU, Law Department, Attorney General and Advocate General Office to enable legislature to plug holes where necessary and put an end to several frivolous litigations and putting them on notice in similar issues
  • Existing data on decided cases should be moved from High Court Registry to Supreme Court Registry in cases filed in Supreme Court. This will save enormous costs and man hours of the country;
  • Creating and using database on advocates on number and nature of filings, appearances, written submissions, articles published, presentations made, conferences attended to have some objective basis for appointment of advocates as judges to High Courts. Family, chamber, caste relationship is an anathema for holding such high station and injustice to other advocates joining the bar;
  • Implementation of One Bar one Vote for each Bar Association by using a common data base of advocates already available with Bar Council of India and having electronic voting. This will make the Associations more effective, meaningful and purposeful. Every leader of the bar will have his defined territories to work on and make them more professional;
  • There is a need of over two million IT trained clerks or Para Legal Associates to support over one million advocates in the country and maintain their office;
  • Creating database on judgments delivered by judges of High Courts and how they fared in Supreme Court, to have some objective basis for appointment of High Court judges to Supreme Court;
  • Implementing Court Live to bring about more transparency and fully implement the avowed principle of open door justice;

 In every case the Judge is on a chess board making whole hearted efforts to make justice win. On the other side is injustice continuously digging pits, confusing issues, flashing baits, veiling the truth, creating non-existent fears to make justice lose. Information technology if used to its full proper potential, is one of the greatest tool in the hand of judge, to make quick moves in dispensation of speedy justice. But to make its full use, judges will have to get all the stake holders trained and aware of interconnected, interlinked, inter-weaved and interlaced databases on judgments, statutes, subjects, issues, decisions, litigants, books, articles and a process that filter the entire information and also suggest possible, probable answers and alternatives, to enable the judges impart justice for all.

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