India’s ambitious National eCourts Project which aims to provide services online to litigants, lawyers and judiciary through universal computerisation of district and subordinate courts, as well as the upgradation of ICT infrastructure of the Supreme Court and the High Courts need continued sincere efforts to achieve the targets, said Justice Madan B Lokur, the Judge-In-Charge of eCommittee.
National eCourts Project was first approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) in the year 2007 at the cost of Rs 441.80 crore. However, after three year in 2010, with no significant progress CCEA had to enhance the scope and budget to Rs 935 crore under Phase-I. According to Ministry of Law & Justice, majority of the activities relating to installation of hardware and software, connectivity and change management have been completed within the stipulated timeline under this phase.
In July 2015, in order to further enhance the ICT, the Phase II of the project was approved with a cost of Rs 1670 crore and duration of four years. This phase is aimed at delivering 30 different services to the litigants through seven different platforms. As per the data available on eTaal, number of electronic transactions, transacted under eCourts Project are amongst top 5 performers with number of electronic transactions being more than 40 crores but lot more needs to be done to truly achieve the target of connected courts.
During a two day National Conference held in New Delhi on National eCourts Project, Secretary (Justice) Alok Srivastava also stressed the importance of definite timelines and better coordination at the High Court Level.
The major objectives of the National eCourts Project is to make whole judicial system ICT enabled by putting in place adequate and modern hardware and connectivity; automation of workflow management in all courts; electronic movement of records from taluka/trial to appeal courts; installation of video conferencing (VC) facility and recording of witness through Video Conferencing; connecting all courts in the country to the National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG) through WAN and additional redundant connectivity; citizen centric facilities such as electronic filing, e-payment and use of mobile applications in all courts; touch screen based kiosks in each court complex, full computerisation of State and district level judicial and service academies and centres.
Specific targets set under the National eCourts Project include: computerisation of all the courts (around 20400) and DLSA and TLSC; WAN and cloud connectivity in 3500 court complexes; full Installation and use of Video Conferencing facility at 3000 Court Complexes and 1150 prisons; charting out key identified citizen services like electronic filing, daily orders, delivery of decrees, online case status in all the district courts.
During the conference, an e-Filing software developed by eCommittee, for district courts and High Courts was also launched. e-Filing software has the facility to e-sign uploaded documents. Through e-Filing software, registered advocates and registered parties or persons will be able to file their cases in the district courts.
In addition, a new version of Case Information System CIS 3.0 is in pipeline in which various tools relating to court management, case management and judicial planning and monitoring are being added. The new version of CIS will be released and deployed soon, said NIC.