Why is it that legal and judicial system in India is in such a bad shape? The answer lies in lack of awareness, knowledge and use of techno legal policies to strengthen Indian judicial system. As a result cases keep on piling up and judiciary is not able to cope up with the ever increasing pressure and getting justice becomes a nightmare for general public.
Justice delayed is justice denied is an old saying now as we are directly denying justice these days. People are not getting access to justice and delayed justice is an option only after we get access to justice. Access to justice for marginalised people in India is even in worst condition and they have accepted injustice as part of their fate and lives.
Disputes and litigation have so much increased in India that they have overburdened our judicial system. Courts are struggling hard to cover the backlog of cases but the backlog keeps on increasing on a daily basis. This is primarily because of bad policies and administrative inefficiencies working at the government levels. For instance, why is it required for the government to even litigate when it is clearly on the wrong side of the law? Even if a decision is given against the government in such cases, it engages in unnecessarily appeals to further delay the desired relief to the victim.
We at Perry4Law Organisation (P4LO) believe that 90% of the government litigation and 95% of its appeals are redundant and not required at the first instance. But government is not doing anything in this regard and this is unnecessarily overburdening the courts in India.
Many of such disputes can be either avoided or they can be resolved without litigation (RWL). Information and communication technology (ICT) can play a significant role in this regard as ICT can not only prevent unnecessary cases from entering into the judicial system but it can also eliminate the vices like bench hunting. Access to justice for marginalised people in India can also be enhanced using ICT. It is clear that ICT is going to play a major role in the governance of India.
But ICT for development (ICT4D) is not possible till we use proper technology in the best possible manner. For instance, if we unconstitutionally demand Aadhaar for filing a case, that violates not only Articles 14, 19 and 21 of Indian Constitution but that would also result in failure of justice. Technology should enable masses and not exclude them from the justice delivery system. As on date people are denied access to justice right from the stage of commission of crime. For instance, if a police station asks for Aadhaar and rejects a valid driving licence or passport for filing of FIR, it is violating multiple Fundamental Rights and statutory rights of the victim. But this is happening openly in India and victims are denied justice even at the level of law enforcement.
As far as Judiciary is concerned, the concepts of online dispute resolution (ODR) and electronic courts (e-courts) must be essential part of the justice delivery system. Both ODR and e-courts must also be part of the national litigation policy of India (NLPI) as well. In short, legal enablement of ICT systems in India is need of the hour.
Unfortunately, till the month of December 2017 we are still waiting for the establishment of first e-court of India. In fact, the e-courts project of India received a major blow in the past when the e-committee refused to record proceedings at the courts in audio and video formats. Similarly, India has not used ODR for dispute resolution purposes so far.
We at Perry4Law Organisation and Perry4Law’s Techno Legal Base (PTLB) strongly recommend that ODR and e-courts must be integral and essential part of any amended Arbitration law and NLPI in future. Otherwise, justice would become a myth in India very soon.