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Lawyers optimistic as Delhi HC goes digital today


Delhi High Court has become the first court in India aiming to go paper-less today with the adoption of a pilot e-court project for all dealings in the court of Justice S Ravindra Bhat.

Head of Delhi High Court's computer committee Justice B D Ahmed had explained the benefits and rationale of switching to an electronic medium in a power point presentation made for judges and lawyers on 26 November 2009.

Delhi High Court Bar Association (DHCBA) president and additional solicitor general of India, senior advocate A S Chandhiok described the move as the beginning of a new era in judicial reforms.

Chandhiok told Legally India: "An electronic system has immense advantages.

"Available statistics reveal that a minimum of six hours are spent on just transferring each file from the filing department to the judge's chambers in a given hearing; it includes filing, listing, sending files to judges home, getting them back and putting them up for hearing."

He explained that the DHCBA had first proposed digitalisation in 2007, after starting to record evidence audio-visually and that the DHCBA would soon start to hold computer proficiency classes for its members.

However, Chandhiok added: "It's at a preliminary stage and we're yet to ascertain the difficulties faced by all concerned. Therefore, e-filings are made optional."

Dr Prof Madhava Menon, who is former NLSIU Bangalore director and member of one of the think tanks of legal policy initiatives also welcomed the step and said: "Given the fact that there are lots of pendency and arrears, going high tech will save a lot of time, increase efficiency in administration of justice and in the long run it will reduce the transaction cost in litigation or any other aspect of court work."

"It will also reduce corruption with no scope for payment of speed money for having your document filed or cleared as quickly as possible," he added.

Practicing advocates have also extended their support and view technology-driven litigation as a necessary requirement in today's date and age albeit there exist apprehensions about implementation of the project.

Khaitan & Co litigation partner Gauri Rasgotra commented: "This is brilliant because you can get rid of the old paperwork. There may be problems with litigants who're not so tech savvy, but I believe that the High Court is also setting up systems to help litigants in understanding the way it'll work.

"The beginnings are always chaotic and will throw some challenges."

Lall & Sethi partner Ashish Prasad noted: "Sooner or later we all need to understand the fact that things are going to get really electronic - there is no place for paper.

"I perceive more difficulty in people to get used to the process, but it will definitely smoothen up the courts working afterwards".

The e-court project envisages the transformation of a paper-based judicial system to one which documents and archives all pleadings, evidence, orders and judgments in a digital medium.

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