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The Supreme Court Justice N V Ramana has stated that Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) can be used to successfully resolve consumer, family, business/ commercial disputes and said the Ministry of Law and Justice has recently issued a list of agencies/organizations, which have online dispute resolution services.

“The advancement of technology has made it possible to use information and communication technologies to resolve disputes between parties irrespective of the location of the disputing parties. The law ministry has advised various government departments to avail of such online services,” Justice Ramana said while addressing the 14th meeting of the Supreme Courts of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in the Russian city of Sochi earlier this week.

At the outset, Justice Ramana said “In an increasingly interconnected world, the lessons we learn from each other illuminate our common house”.

“Judicial cooperation through continuously proposing, listening, and building a consensus grounded in the fundamental values of the legal system is an exercise that will strengthen our judicial abilities,” he said.

In his speech, Justice Ramana touched upon various aspects of law and judiciary including pendency and judicial delay, inadequate number of judges, lack of infrastructure and resources, technology, lack of proper court management, alternative dispute resolution and lok adalats.

On harnessing technology, Justice Ramana pointed to the need to cut down on the amount of paper that is part of the system in India which according to him was huge. “Along with the digitization of old files, it would also be necessary to reduce paper filings by mandating that all filings be done electronically,” Justice Ramana pointed out.

The e-Courts and the e-filing project propose the computerization of 14,948  subordinate courts in 3 stages eventually aiming at a paperless system, Justice Ramana said.

According to him, the benefit of such e-filing is that digital paperbooks can be quickly transmitted to higher courts as also in service of summons and notices.

“It is time for procedural laws to be amended to allow for the full use of benefits of technology, especially real-time tracking through e-process. With large-scale digitization of the different aspects of a judicial proceeding, information gaps that exist between the litigant, lawyer and the court could also be eliminated. This could potentially reduce adjournments, while also ensuring greater transparency,” Justice Ramana emphasized.

Another area in which technology could play a big role was to harness it to ensure the quality of first instance judgments. “The rapid strides by Artificial Intelligence in ensuring that all relevant parameters are adjudicated in first-instance judgments through a structured format for delivery of judgments must be put to good use,” he said.

In conclusion, he urged all participants of the SCO to constitute to regularly exchange our judicial experiences and to assist in solving the problems in member countries through the shared wisdom of all.

Read full speech of Justice Ramana here.

—India Legal Bureau

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