As part of the National eGovernance Plan, the eCourt project is an integrated Mission Mode Project under implementation since 2007 for ICT development of the Indian Judiciary based on the “National Policy and Action Plan for Implementation of Information and Communication Technology in the Indian Judiciary”. The e-Court Integrated Mission Mode Project was launched with the objective of improving access to justice using technology. The Phase I of eCourts was concluded in 2015 in which 14,249 Court sites were computerized. Under Phase II, 18,735 District & Subordinate courts have been computerised so far. The details of status of implementation of the said project is as below:
- WAN: As part of WAN project, connectivity to 2972 of 2992 court complexes (99.3% sites) have been provided with 10 Mbps to 100 Mbps bandwidth speed using various technologies like OFC, RF, VSAT.
- Case Information Software (CIS) based on customized Free and Open-Source Software (FOSS) has been developed. Currently CIS National Core Version 3.2 is being implemented in District Courts and the CIS National Core Version 1.0 is being implemented for the High Courts. A COVID-19 Management Patch has been developed in the CIS to help in smart scheduling of cases thereby enabling judicial officers to retain urgent cases and adjourn cases not urgent on cause list.
- Using National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG), developed under the eCourts Project with elastic search technology, lawyers and litigants can access case status information of 20.86 crore cases and more than 18.02 crore orders/judgments. Reason for delay of cases has also been included. Open APIs have been introduced which allows the Government departments to use the NJDG data for research and analysis.
- 7 platforms for Citizen centric services or service delivery channels for providing real time information on case status, cause lists, judgements etc. to lawyers/litigants. The services are SMS Push and Pull (2,00,000 SMS sent daily), Email (2,50,000 sent daily), multilingual and tactile eCourts services Portal (35 Lakh hits daily), Judicial Service centres (JSC), Info Kiosks, eCourts Mobile App for lawyers/litigants (with 79.65 lakh downloads till 30th April 2022) and JustIS app for judges (17,369 downloads till 4th July 2022).
- Virtual Courts: As on 04.07.2022, there are 20 Virtual Courts in 16 States / UTs viz. Delhi (2), Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala (2), Maharashtra (2), Assam, Chhattisgarh, Jammu and Kashmir (2), Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Meghalaya, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Tripura and West Bengal to try traffic offences. Virtual Court can be administered by a Judge over a virtual electronic platform whose jurisdiction may extend to the entire State and function 24X7. These courts have heard more than 1.69 crore cases and realised Rs. 271 crore in fines. Delhi High Court has recently started 34 Digital Courts to hear cheque bounce cases under the Section 138 NI Act.
- Using Video Conferencing, the District and High courts have heard District courts heard 1,28,76,549 cases while the High Courts heard 63,76,561 cases (totalling 1.92 cr) till 30.04.2022 using video conferencing. The Supreme Court held 2,61,338 hearings till 13.06.2022 since the beginning of lockdown period. VC facilities have also been operationalized between 3240 Courts and corresponding 1272 Prisons. Funds for setting up 2506 VC Cabins have been made available. Additional 1500 VC Licenses have been acquired. Mobile e-courts van equipped with Wi-Fi and computers for video conferencing for speedy disposal of cases have been started in Telangana and Uttarakhand. Live Streaming of video conferencing of proceedings has been started in High Courts of Gujarat, Orissa, Karnataka, Jharkhand, Patna and Madhya Pradesh thus allowing media and other interested persons to join the proceedings.
- An eFiling system (version 3.0) 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, online payment, filing of multiple IAs/application, Portfolio Management and bilingual mode etc. Online payment of court fees, fines, penalties and judicial deposits has also been initiated through https://pay.ecourts.gov.in.
- 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. As on 30.04.2022, 500 eSewa Kendras have been made functional under 26 High Courts. A Nyay Kaushal Centre started in Nagpur to provide all e-facilities.
- A ‘Judgment & Order Search’ portal has been inaugurated for the convenience of its stakeholders in searching judgments easily by providing a repository for Judgments and Final Orders of the High Courts. It can be reached at https://judgments.ecourts.gov.in, which encapsulates the features such as search by Bench, Case Type, Case Number, Year, Petitioner/ Respondent Name, Judge Name, Act, Section, Decision: From Date, To Date and Full Text Search.
- 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 High Courts.
- Justice Clock: To bring awareness to the public about justice sector, advertising various schemes of the department and to give status of various fields to the public, 32 Justice Clocks have been installed at 21 High Courts.
- Secure, Scalable & Sugamya Website as a Service (S3WAAS) Website: A new divyang friendly website for eCommittee, based on S3WaaS platform is live in 13 regional languages including English & Hindi.All other court websites are being upgraded from the existing system to the S3WAAS platform which are secure, scalable and accessible. Content published on the website is accessible so that even Divyang users will be able to access the information using assistive technologies.
- IEC and Training: As part of IEC campaign several initiatives have been taken to educate the Judicial Officers, lawyers and public about the facilities available under eCourts Project, such as
- eCommittee Website: Launched exclusively for the e-Committee and linked to the website of the DoJ for dissemination of information relating to eCourts Project amongst all stakeholders and to enable High Courts to upload their achievements and best practices.
- Awareness and familiarization of e-filing: Webinars for Bar Council of Tamil Nadu, Goa, Maharashtra and Delhi were held. Manual and Brochure on eFiling is made available on eFiling Portal.
- YouTube Channel: Under the title ‘eCourts Services’ for video tutorials on eFiling. 12 help videos in 7 regional languages have been uploaded apart from Hindi and English and circulated for advocates as part of awareness, through eFiling portal help desk and also on social media through eCommittee YouTube channel.
- eCommittee Training at National and State level: Training and awareness programmes on the ICT have been conducted covering nearly 3,60,993 stakeholders including Judges of States, Courts staff and Advocates. 25 Master Trainers have been trained in each High Court who in turn has already trained 5409 Master Trainers across the country. These, 5409 Master Trainers have in turn imparted training programme on eCourts Services and e-filing in each district of the country for advocates in their regional languages and also identified Master Trainer Advocates. e-Committee has acknowledged and appreciated Master trainers by issuing Digital certificates with QR Code for online verification by hosting certificates on eCommittee website. These certificates can be authenticated by scanning QR Code from mobile.
In the Phase II of the eCourts project, out of total outlay of Rs. 1670 crore, the Government has released a sum of Rs. 1668.43 crore as on 31.03.2022 to various organizations involved in the implementation of the project. This includes a sum of Rs. 1164.37 crore released to all High Courts.
18735 District and Subordinate Courts are computerized and are ICT enabled under eCourts phase-II so far.
Steps taken ICT enablement of Courtsare as follows:
- ₹646.16 Crore have been provided for additional Hardware for 14,249 Courts, computerisation of new courts and computerisation of expected Courts.
- ₹271.02Crore have been released for setting up technical infrastructure at existing Courts Complexes and new Courts Complexes.
- ₹14.32Crore have been provided for replacement of obsolete Laptops provided to Judicial Officers in Ph-I and provisioning of Laptop and other IT facilities to new Judicial Officer.
- ₹6.31Crore have been provided for installation of VC equipment in Courts and Jails.
- ₹ 124.98Crore have been released for providing cloud connectivity in all Court Complexes.
- ₹ 317.96 Crore have been released for providing WAN Connectivity.
- ₹ 36.6 Crore have been released for providing solar energy in 5% Court Complexes.
- ₹ 62.27 Crore have been provided for various software development components like CIS, eFiling, ePayments, etc.
The steps taken to provide efficient and time bound access to citizen centric services of courts to plaintiffs having no access to internet and facing digital divide:
- eSewa Kendras have been rolled out to bridge the digital divide by providing e filing services to lawyers and litigants. Covering all High Courts and one District Court as pilot project, it is being expanded to cover all court complexes. Government has released Rs. 12.54 crore for setting up 235 eSewa Kendras. The eSewa Kendras are being set up at the entry point of the court complexes with the intention of facilitating the lawyer or litigant who needs any kind of assistance ranging from information to facilitation and e filing. As on 30.04.2022, 500 eSewa Kendras have been made functional under 26 High Courts. These have been funded both by the eCourts project as well out of state funding.
On 30 October 2020, India’s first e-Resource Center was inaugurated at Nagpur in Maharashtra. The e-Resource Centre “Nyay Kaushal” will facilitate e-filing of cases in Supreme Court India, High Courts and District Courts across the country. It will also assist the lawyers and litigants in access online e-Courts services and shall be the saviour for those who cannot afford the technology. It will provide benefits in saving time, avoidance of exertion, travelling long distances, and saving cost by offering facilities of e-filing of cases across the country, to conduct the hearing virtually, Scanning, Accessing e-Courts services etc.
- Using SMS pull facility stakeholders can receive case status by sending sixteen characters CNR number of a case to the number 97668-99899
- SMS push facility is provided to stakeholders like litigants and advocates to get SMS on the occurrence of each event in a case like filing, registration, adjournment, scrutiny, listing, transfer of the case, disposal, uploading of orders etc., on their mobile registered with the court.
- Service desk to be set up for internal stakeholders to get the relevant information.
- Kiosks are installed at various court complexes across the country. Litigants and advocates can view case status, cause lists etc., on the kiosk. The same information can also be obtained from the Judicial Service Centre established at each court complex.
This information was given by the Minister for Law and Justice, Shri Kiren Rijiju in a written reply to a question in Lok Sabha today.