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Why e-courts project is sputtering

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The government’s e-courts project is still to realize its full potential. Conceived as a way out for ensuring speedy delivery of justice and reducing pendency of cases, the much-hyped project is sputtering, says a study done by a think-tank Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy. A story based on the report, published in The Times of India, has listed delayed funding, faulty planning and poor coordination between the government and the judiciary as some of the stumbling blocks.

The objective of the e-courts project is to provide designated services to litigants, lawyers and the judiciary by universal computerization of district and subordinate courts.

It was revealed at a recent workshop on e-courts held in Delhi that the lower courts still send “summons” through the court staff. They do not use emails, couriers or even the speed post service.

The Vidhi study done on modernizing judiciary evaluates the effectiveness of e-courts against the benchmarks of speedy and affordable justice. It says that extensive use of IT tools is a must-needed panacea for modernizing service delivery and toning up judicial functioning. It also laments that total computerization of the lower judiciary is still not complete despite efforts undertaken way back in 1997.    

While tracking the three-phased project, the study says that the first phase is nearing completion, the second phase is excruciatingly slow and beyond schedule, while the third is yet to emerge from the evolving state.

Short-sighted policy formulation, inability to mitigate expected risks, flawed resource allocation, delays in funding approvals, no timely implementation and lack of coordination in implementation are some of the factors identified by the Vidhi study.

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