30 million pending cases in 17000 subordinate courts, some of them pending for decades marks the very sorry state of Indian judiciary. Lack of sufficient judicial personnel, and poor infrastructure are one of the main reasons for the piling up of cases.
Outdated procedures which incentivise delays and also the attitude of advocates who resist change has also contributed in no small measure to the current state of affairs.
In many instances, the litigants are unable to get proper information on their cases. They even miss summons and often travel long distances to Courts only to find that their case has already been adjourned. Even getting a copy of a judgment of their case is a problem in most cases resulting in a frustration and disrespect to judiciary.
Earlier, a solution was sought for this problem of pending cases by encouraging alternative dispute resolution mechanisms which have not had the necessary success so far.
Now the real revolution in Indian judiciary is on cards with the use of ICT. The judiciary has now announced that all case details in 17000 subordinate courts will now be made available online. Summons will be served optionally by e-mail. Magistrates will issue orders using digital signatures.
Yes..it looks like a fairy tale. It is also true that the judicial officers are yet to acquire knowledge of computers let alone the intricacies of digital signature. Further the advocate community is already feeling uneasy that their hold on the litigants will be reduced and are likely to be non cooperative since most of them are also computer illiterate.
Despite all these hurdles, it must be said that introduction of e-governance in judiciary is one of the best things to happen in Indian community and we need to welcome the intentions of the Government in both arms.
At the same time we need to think of the ways and means to enable the judiciary take up this responsibility and cope with the revolutionary changes in their working.
During the recent Digital Society Day celebrations in Bangalore, Naavi speaking on behalf of Cyber Law College and Digital society Foundation offered Karnataka Judicial authorities that a structured plan of action can be implemented to train the judges and magistrates in Karnataka on Cyber Laws. Time has come to expedite this process so that opposition boarne out of fear of change does not build up for the measures the Government is set to initiate.