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About eCourts Project

Context:

The Union Cabinet recently approved the third phase of the eCourts Projects with a budget allocation of ₹7,210 crore.

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. eCourts Project
  2. Phase III of the eCourts Project
  3. Major Initiatives Under the eCourts Project

eCourts Project

  • The eCourts Project was initiated based on the “National Policy and Action Plan for Implementation of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in the Indian Judiciary – 2005.” This policy was proposed by the eCommittee of the Supreme Court of India with the aim of enabling the Indian judiciary through ICT.
  • The eCommittee is a governmental body established in response to a proposal from the Chief Justice of India. It is responsible for formulating a National Policy on computerization in the Indian Judiciary and advising on technological and managerial changes.
  • This is a nationwide project, overseen and funded by the Department of Justice, Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of India, with the goal of implementing ICT in District Courts across the country.
  • Key objectives of the project include providing efficient and citizen-centric service delivery, developing decision support systems in courts, automating processes for transparency in accessing information, enhancing judicial productivity, and making the justice delivery system affordable, accessible, cost-effective, predictable, reliable, and transparent.
  • Phase I of the eCourts Project was completed in 2015, computerizing 14,249 Court sites.
  • Phase II expanded the computerization to 18,735 District and Subordinate courts.

Phase III of the eCourts Project

  • Phase III is a centrally sponsored project aimed at digitizing all court records, including legacy and pending cases, at an estimated cost of ₹2,038.40 crore.
  • The project plans to enhance the digital infrastructure of courts by establishing 2,500 new modern, virtual-friendly courts, setting up 1,150 virtual courts, and creating 4,400 eSewa kendras in all court complexes.
  • Approximately 3,108 crore documents will be digitized as part of this phase, further advancing the digitization efforts within the Indian judiciary.

Major Initiatives Under the eCourts Project

  • Case Information Software (CIS): Developed using customised Free and Open-Source Software (FOSS).
  • National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG): Launched in 2015 for monitoring case pendency and disposal in High Courts and Subordinate Courts.
  • Virtual Courts: Introduced in 16 States/UTs, facilitating legal proceedings through video conferencing.
  • eFiling System: Allows electronic filing of legal documents with advanced features like online submission of Vakalatnama, eSigning, and online video recording of oaths.
  • eSewa Kendras: Rolled out to provide e-filing services to lawyers and litigants, promoting inclusive justice delivery.
  • National Service and Tracking of Electronic Processes (NSTEP): Developed for technology-enabled process serving and issuing of summons, implemented in 28 High Courts.
  • Secure, Scalable & Sugamya Website as a Service (S3WAAS) Website: A user-friendly website in 13 regional languages designed for accessibility by people with disabilities.
  • IEC and Training: Initiatives to educate Judicial Officers, lawyers, and the public about the available facilities.

 

March 2024
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