Monday, May 22, 2006

Royalty Free Idea of the Month # 3

The Concept
A High Court on the net for speedy disposal of routine cases.

The Need Gap
As on 31st December 2005, nearly 3-crore cases were pending before the Supreme Court, 21 High Courts and the subordinate courts in India. Many of these cases have been gathering dust for years. There have been many reasons for this judicial clog. Lack of infrastructure, staff and budgets are some oft-quoted excuses. The Government of India has tried to resolve this mess by introducing Fast Track Courts. But as any neutral observer will tell you, Fast Track Courts are not as fast you think. They have their constraints. So clearly there’s a need for another solution.

The Solution
To break the judicial logjam, the government must institute virtual courts called the iCourts. The iCourts should be empowered to dispose off long pending cases and new suits involving minor civil disputes.

How will iCourts work?
iCourts by definition are courts on the internet. To create an iCourt, all one has to do is to commission the creation of a website that combines elements of a chatroom, bulletin board, messenger & blog. The courtroom will be a blog with a chatroom provision. Moderator of the blog will be the judge. The concerned parties will be co-opted into the blog. The lawyers from both sides will initially be allowed to state their case by posting their pre-prepared statement of arguments. Relevant documentation may be uploaded. Audio clips & Video clips may also be posted. Once the judge pores over the arguments he will post his observations. Arguments and counter arguments may be made by the relevant parties in the blog. On the day the judge wants to give his verdict, he will alert the concerned parties via the messenger and ask them to assemble in his chat room. He will question and counter question the lawyers and then post his final verdict.

What features can one expect in the iCourt site?
a) Every judge will have his own login, password, profile page, email ID and blog.
b) Every lawyer who practices in the iCourt will get a login, password and email ID.
c) For every case, a new blog will be created by a judge. Members of the blog will be the respective lawyers. The key moderator will be the judge.
d) The judge may or may not allow comments on the posts depending on the case.
e) At any point any client should be able to access the profiles of the judge, lawyers the cases they’ve handled before and their relevant case blog.
f) Each blog will have a chat room where real time arguments of the concerned parties can take place. Archive of chat transcripts can be accessed by the judge at any point in time.
g) A bulletin board will be available in the home page of the site. The bulletin board will post the day’s schedule of cases.
h) A search engine facility will be provided. One can search for judges, lawyers or case blogs using this engine.
i) The Constitution of India will be provided as a reference tool in the website. One should be able to mine the constitution using keywords.
j) News regarding transfers, appointments & cases will be available in the home page.

Who will create the iCourt program?
The Government of India can call for a pitch. The best software companies from India may be invited for the pitch. The most user friendly program may be chosen. A beta testing will have to done. Bugs have to be sorted out before the launch.

Who will fund the iCourt?
The Law Ministry of the Government of India.

Who will administer the iCourts?
For security reasons, the IT ministry may administer the iCourts website. Maintenance may be outsourced to the company that created the site.

What will be the jurisdiction of the iCourts?
Any minor civil dispute in India will be referred to the iCourts. An expert panel of judges can decide on the kind of matters that will be referred to the iCourts.

As a court of law, where can one peg the iCourts?
iCourts will enjoy as much power as a High Court. In terms of constitutional importance, it will be right below the Supreme Court.

Who can be an iCourt judge?
Retired judges from high courts & subordinate courts may be picked for this assignment. We’ll need at least 1000 odd judges for this purpose. The judges can be given a free laptop and a broadband connection. The judges will have to necessarily undergo a crash course in handling computers & the internet.

How will the judges be compensated?
The judges can be paid a consultation fee for every case cleared.

Whom will the iCourt report to?
The iCourt will come under the direct supervision of a Chief Justice who will be of Supreme Court rank. The Chief Justice will have the powers to appoint iCourt judges, monitor their performances, and will attend to high priority cases in the iCourts. The Chief Justice’s office will also double up as the iCourt Head Office. The Chief Justice will be selected by the Supreme Court.

Where can the client access the iCourts?
Since the iCourt is a virtual court, it can be accessed from anywhere in India. All one needs is a computer with an internet connection. To make such computers available in rural areas, the Government of India can tie up with cyber cafes.

How long can an iCourt take to give a verdict on a case?
Not more than 15 days.

How does one file an appeal against an iCourt verdict?
Appeals may be directed to the Supreme Court.

Won’t the legal system feel threatened?
The iCourt is no way is a threat to the legal system in India. It’s a remedy for rapid disposal of routine cases. The broad framework within which the iCourts can operate will be framed by the Supreme Court. Adequate care will be taken to ensure that the iCourts will in no way diminish the importance of any High Court. All the iCourt will do is to act as a supplement for most High Courts in India.

What’s in it for all of us?
a) To the average citizen of India, the iCourts will be the most approachable, transparent and speedy court in India. The promise of a redressal in 15 days should hold enough charm.
b) To the lawyers, it’s more cases. Hence more money.
c) To the judges of real courts, the iCourts take care of all the pesky and shitty work. So they can use their time more fruitfully on important cases.
d) To the Government of India, it’s a workable and viable legal system that solves the vexed problem of pending cases.


Blogger macmohan said...

icourt - do u mean high court... Well web is all about building links to your site

2:53 PM  

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