The Chief Justice of India (CJI) has recently said that the budgetary allocation of ₹7,000 crore for the third phase of the e-courts project will ensure that courts reach every citizen.

The Budget 2023 outlay for the third phase of the project is a mighty jump from the ₹639.411 crore and ₹1,670 crore spent in the first two phases.

 

About the e-Courts project

  • As part of the National eGovernance Plan, the Project has been under implementation (under the aegis of the e-Committee SC) since 2007 for ICT development of the Indian Judiciary.
  • It is a Pan-India Project, monitored and funded by the Department of Justice, Ministry of Law and Justice for the District Courts across the country.
  • It is based on the National Policy and Action Plan for Implementation of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in the Indian Judiciary-2005.
  • The Project envisages —
      • To provide efficient and time-bound citizen centric services delivery.
      • To develop, install and implement decision support systems in courts.
      • To automate the processes to provide transparency in accessibility of information.
      • To enhance judicial productivity, to make the justice delivery system affordable, accessible, cost effective, predictable, reliable and transparent.
  • The Phase I of e-Courts was concluded in 2015 in which 14,249 Court sites were computerised. Under Phase II, 18,735 District and Subordinate courts have been computerised so far.

 

Major initiatives launched under the project

  • Case Information Software (CIS) based on customised Free and Open-Source Software (FOSS) has been developed.
  • National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG) is a flagship project launched in 2015 for monitoring pendency and disposal of the cases in HCs and Subordinate Courts.
  • Virtual Courts (as of July 2022, there are 20 Virtual Courts in 16 States/UTs) and using Video Conferencing.
  • An e-Filing system has been rolled out for the electronic filing of legal papers with advanced features like online submission of Vakalatnama, eSigning, online video recording of oath, etc.
  • eSewa Kendras — To make justice delivery inclusive and to mitigate handicaps caused by digital divide, eSewa Kendras have been rolled out to provide e-filing services to lawyers and litigants.
  • National Service and Tracking of Electronic Processes — NSTEP has been developed for technology enabled process serving and issuing of summons. It has currently been implemented in 28 HCs.
  • Secure, Scalable & Sugamya Website as a Service (S3WAAS) Website — A new divyang friendly website in 13 regional languages to enable them to access the information using assistive technologies.
  • IEC and Training — As part of the IEC campaign several initiatives have been taken to educate the Judicial Officers, lawyers and public about the facilities available.