Impact of Technology on Access to Justice in India: Opportunities and Challenges.

Impact of Technology on Access to Justice in India: Opportunities and Challenges.
Technology and Law have pretty much developed in the present times. Back in the days it was very impractical to even think of having the hearings of the Court without seeing the concerned parties and counsels in person. As time passed, the Indian judiciary has joined hands with the technology to enhance the process of conducting Trials and delivering judgements. Though, the practicality of the same if questioned but the COVID pandemic, made all of us sit and realise the Technological innovations in legal system can indeed definitely be practically applied.
Key words:
e-courts, e-filing, technology, virtual court hearings, e-courts portal, e-payment, electronic display system (EDS), document management system (DMS), block-chain method.
In today’s fast-paced world technology and innovation have played a vital role in our lives, the Legal world is no exception to that. Legal technology or also called as legal tech/law tech, is been playing a significant role in the Indian legal system. The Indian judiciary also has been a guest to this present wave of technological advancements. Since, a very long time the Indian judiciary has been grappling with a significant backlog and pendency to litigation. According to the, National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG) gives us a picture of the backlog of cases haunting India. There are about 4.38 crore cases lay pending before the Taluka courts and District while 60.9 lakh cases (60,90,891 cases) are pending before the High Courts. Thus, the backlog of cases have crossed the 5 crore mark with 5,00,39,981 cases pending before the various Courts/Tribunals across the Country as of June1st of 2023. The said issue being addressed through e-courts and Digital India. The Indian Judiciary is amalgamating technology into the traditional courts to reduce pendency and fasten the justice delivery.
Use of Technology in Justice Delivery Mechanism-
In India the relationship between law and technology has been growing rapidly and has gained quite the importance as innovative technologies have been changing the country’s justice delivery mechanism. The legal fraternity is also duly benefitted by the innovative technological entry into the Legal fora as the advent of technology enables us to access the case laws, legislation and legal commentary through these online platforms. The lawyers, through this method, have been able to communicate with their clients, stakeholders, co-counsel and thereby decreasing the in-person meetings. Technology, basically allows legal practitioners and also the judicial stakeholders to operate more effectively by making sure that the time-consuming activities like the document management, scheduling and legal research are addressed through technology.
Technology through various steps, enunciated below, has played key role in reducing the administrative costs, increasing the productivity, and further to develop the ability to manage the caseloads:
e-Courts Project
The e-courts machine Mode Project is a pan- India project, monitored and funded by the department of justice, Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of India for the District courts across the country. It has a vision to transform the Indian Judiciary by ICT (Information and communications technology) enablement of Courts.
The Development of e Courts:
e-courts have now become a new tool in order to access justice to the Indian Legal system. Back in the days we could not even comprehend court hearings without hearing the counsels and the parties concerned. Though the pandemic brought the world to a stand still but these technological innovations ensured that the court proceedings were carried out without hampering the judicial process be it hearing the parties thereby ensuring the essentials principles of natural justice. Indian e-courts ensure to provide efficient and transparent services to litigants. Given below are some of the initiatives:
1) Virtual court systems- In the said system, court proceedings are conducted virtually by means of video conferencing. This ensures easy access to justice and reduces the pendency of cases.
2) e-Courts portal- The e-Courts portal encompasses the interest of all the litigants, advocates, government agencies, police and citizens. In fact, this system is so helpful that being anywhere, anybody can access the portal and get the details of the cases as first-hand information.
3) e-filing- The facility of filing court cases electronically ensures benefits such as saving time and money, automatic digitization thereby reducing the paper consumption which is a necessary step, to be taken as an environmental cause. The step towards e filing reduces the physical hardship of being physically present before the Courts.
4) e-payment of court fees and fines- The ability to make online payments of court fees and fines reduces the need for carrying physical cash, stamps and cheques etc. thereby, integrating with the state’s specified vendors for convenience.
5) Court Management System (CMA): This is a web-based system that manages whole court process from case delivery to judgement that ensures easy flow of information across various stakeholders and departments.
6) Document Management System (DMS): In this system, the documents can be digitally saved from any location and anytime, thereby saving the physical spaces.
7) Electronic Display System (EDS): This system displays court procedures, such as case status, case lists and cause lists, on electronic screens around the court complex. This annihilates needless physical travel.
8) The Court Recording and Transcription System (CRTS): In this system, they use the records and transcribes as evidence, thereby reducing handwritten notetaking.
9) Use of AI and Machine Learning: Artificial learning and machine learning help in analyzing vast amounts of data, identifying patterns and predicting the outcomes which enhances efficiency of judicial delivery system for instance the SUVAS and SUPACE tools implemented by Supreme Court and High Courts.
10) Blockchain for Secure Record-Keeping: This technology basically helps in ensuring security and transparency of court records. The use of block chain method prevents the records from being tampered and ensures the court records are secured.

Challenges with Application of Emerging Technologies in the Judicial System:
1) Data security: As the data involved being quite the sensitive kind, it’s very important to keep the data secured.
2) Bias and discrimination: With emerging AI, there is quite the bias and discrimination within the algorithms which poses high risk in inequalities in judicial system.
3) Privacy concerns: With use of technology, there are high risks with privacy rights, which can result in violation of the private right of an individual.
4) Cost: The high costs involved in implementation of the technological reforms needs to be taken care of as the judicial systems may not have sufficient resources.
5) Lack of understanding: Many legal professionals may not have enough understanding towards the emerging technology which may result in inequalities in justice system.
Way Forward:
Data Privacy and Security: Technology heavily rely on data collection; hence it is important to consider that data collected and used endures security and privacy.
Accessibility: The judicial system must ensure that there are no barriers to the accessibility of data.
Transparency and Accountability: The judicial system should ensure that there is transparency and accountability with the emerging technology to ensure just and fair usage.
Training and Education: The judiciary to ensure that the lawyers, stakeholders and the judges are properly trained to keep in pace with the emerging technology.
In conclusion, this article basically talks about the way the Indian judicial system has developed in the present times with the advent of Technology. The way judiciary enhanced the court proceedings through the means of technology. Like, the e-filing, e-portal, e-payment etc. By this the court also ensured that there is accessibility and transparency to the court proceedings to its citizens. There are positive aspects to this but it also has certain negative aspects such as the technology can also increase the divide particularly for marginalized communities. This erodes the idea of equal justice and worsens the unequal allocation of legal services. The digital divide also negatively impacts attorneys, who are often neither technologically literate nor have access to digital tools and resources. This article gives a bird’s eye view to all the techno-legal developments.
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Written by- Parvathy P.V.

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