Thursday, November 11, 2010

Has E-Court Committee Of India Been Dissolved?

Use of information and communication technology (ICT) for judicial functioning in India has long become overdue. This does not mean that Indian courts have not witnessed any computerisation at all. They have definitely improved a lot on this front but they are far away from being called e-courts. As per the status report on the e-court mission mode project of India released in October 2010, we are still waiting for the establishment of first e-court of India.

An e-court committee was set up in December 2004 to assist the chief justice of India (CJI) in formulating a national policy on computerisation of Indian judiciary and advice on technological, communication and management-related changes. The tenure of the committee was initially set for one year and it was renewed from time to time till February 2010. There is no news of renewal of its tenure since February 2010 and it is safe to conclude that the Supreme Court e-court committee of India has been dissolved.

Meanwhile the national litigation policy of India (NLPI) was released in India. According to the NLPI, there will be an Empowered Committees to monitor the implementation of this Policy and accountability. Meanwhile, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved an amount of 935 crore budget for implementing the e-courts project in the India.

However, even after almost two months not even the Empowered Committee has been constituted by the Department of Justice. The empowered committee will be responsible for providing strategic direction and guidance to the e-court project. In the absence of the empowered committee, the e-court project cannot start.

There is no shortage of financial resources and all it requires is a will to implement the e-court project of India. With a lack of techno legal expertise in this regard as well lack of ICT impetus in the NLPI, India may not see the first e-court for few more years. Law Minister Veerappa Moily must actively take part in this much needed judicial reform initiative that is going to die otherwise.