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SC e-Committee Releases Draft Vision Document for Phase-III of e-Courts Project.

In another major initiative, the e-Committee Supreme Court has prepared the draft vision document for Phase-III of the e-Courts Project under the auspices of the Supreme Court of India. E-Courts Project is a mission mode project undertaken by the Department of Justice, Government of India.

The e-Committee Supreme Court of India yesterday (3 April 2021) released the Draft Vision document for Phase-III of the aforementioned e-Courts Project. The Press release from e-Committee today stated that the draft vision document is hosted on the e-Committee website and the Chairperson of e-Committee has requested all the stakeholders, i.e Advocates, Litigants, common citizens, Law students, Technical experts all to come forward to give valuable inputs suggestions and feedback as the knowledge, insight, concerns, and experience of the stakeholders will help to refine the vision document of the next phase of the e-Courts Project and to plan its implementation.

Yesterday in this regard, the Chairperson of e-Committee Dr. Justice Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud, Judge, Supreme Court of India also addressed various stakeholders, including all chief justices of the High courts, Legal luminaries, Law schools, IT experts, welcoming the inputs, suggestions and comments on the Draft Vision documents. Some of the key extracts of the letter of the Chairperson Dr. Justice Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud is as follows:

The e-Committee of the Supreme Court has been overseeing the implementation of the e-Courts Project, conceptualized under the “National Policy and Action Plan for Implementation of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in the Indian Judiciary-2005”. The e-Committee has evolved in terms of its roles and responsibilities over the last fifteen years.

A solid foundation for the objectives of the e-Committee has been substantially achieved in the first two phases of the Project. The objectives of the e-Committee includes interlinking of all courts across the country; ICT enablement of the Indian judicial system; Enabling courts to enhance judicial productivity, both qualitatively and quantitatively; Making the justice delivery system accessible, cost-effective, transparent and accountable; and Providing citizen-centric services.  As Phase-II will soon conclude, the Committee initiated steps for preparing a vision document for Phase-III.

Phase III of the e-Courts Project in India is rooted in two central facets—access and inclusion. Phase III of the e-Courts Project envisions a judicial system that is more easily accessible irrespective of geographical distances, efficient and equitable for every individual who seeks justice, makes more efficient use of human and other resources, and absorbs the latest technology for a positive environmental impact.

This vision for Phase III is sought to be built on the following four building blocks:

  1. Core Values: Phase III must strive for a modern judicial system, governed by core values of trust, empathy, sustainability and transparency which, while simplifying procedures, will maximise the positives of technology and minimise its risks and challenges.
  2. Whole-of-system approach: Phase III must aim to make processes more efficient across all three components of dispute management i.e. dispute avoidance, containment and resolution. Each of these components will require technological integration with different institutions.
  3. Adoption frameworks: Phase III must focus on building strong adoption frameworks. Such frameworks must include behavioural nudges, adequate training and skill set development, feedback loops, along with the requisite mandate of law.
  4. Governance framework: From a governance perspective, while numerous judicial decisions have validated the use of technology in judicial processes, Phase III must address the accompanying administrative structures. The key goals and strategy of Phase III prioritise the creation of a core digital infrastructure that can enable the development of services for dispute resolution by the judiciary and services of solutions for dispute containment and resolution by the ecosystem. 

Successful operationalization of the goals of Phase III will require careful planning around sequencing, budgeting, procurement, contract management, adoption and change management, and a robust monitoring and evaluation framework. This Draft Vision Document provides the blueprint for such operationalization.   

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