(L-R) Chief Justice Hon'ble Mr. Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar; Prime Minister Narendra Modi; Minister of Electronics and Information Technology and Minister of Law and Justice Ravi Shankar Prasad (screenshot from YouTube video of the launch ceremony from the PMO’s channel)
The Supreme Court of India (SC), the highest judicial forum and the final court of appeal in the country, launched an Integrated Case Management Information System (ICMIS) on May 10.
The Indian legal system suffers from resource constraints resulting in slow processing of cases. As of April 2017, 27095 regular hearing matters and 33650 admission matters were pending before the SC, adding up to a total of 60745.
ICMIS is expected to address information asymmetries, providing a completely transparent case management regime, and make the processing of cases more efficient.
With the ICMIS, when lawyers want to appeal a High Court (the highest court at the state level) order, they just need to enter the number of the case and the grounds on which they are filing and the entire paperbook of the case is automatically transferred to the SC from the High Court (HC), if the relevant HC has digitised records. There could be hundreds or thousands of pages in each paperbook. At later stages, also, documents available in digital form in the concerned courts can be retrieved by the ICMIS, as and when required.
The transfer of the digitised content saves time for everyone involved. If the HC does not have digitised records for the case, the system provides a mechanism for the HC to create digital records and upload them to ICMIS within the timeline prescribed.
Every part of the process is monitored to ensure that everyone discharges their duties in time. If that doesn’t happen, the next higher authority is informed automatically.
All parties concerned, including the litigants, lawyers and the HC are informed the moment the case is filed, through emails and text messages to registered mobile phone numbers. Multiple communication addresses can be entered.
Once informed, the parties can also download the grounds of appeal filed by the lawyer. They are also informed of pending court fees.
The same communication modes are used for updating the parties and stakeholders of any developments during the progress of the cases, such as the passing of orders or the setting of dates. No business matter remains undated. The ‘Case status’ section displays tentative dates if not dates have been assigned by the court, based on predefined logic. An updated index of paperbooks is available for the benefit of lawyers and litigants. Information is provided on all documents filed and the users can download documents . The notice service status is available, including information on which serving the notice to which respondents in pending.
In the event of any delays, everyone concerned is alerted and informed of what needs to be done.
ICMIS will also help in regular management of resources in the court, with auto-distribution of workload among available court staff on given day.
ICMIS will be accessible through a new interactive website, http://www.sci.gov.in/. The website is intended to provide a user-friendly interface between litigants, lawyers and the SC registry. It is optimised for use on mobile devices and includes the facility of a payment gateway.
The Chief Justice of India, Hon'ble Mr. Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar expressed his vision of digitising the entire national judicial system, so that each case is filed only once. ICMIS will be extended first to the High Courts and then to the district courts across the country.
Police stations across the country will also be integrated into the system through the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems (CCTNS) project. Under the CCTNS Project, there are plans to connect around 14,000 Police Stations along with 6000 higher offices in the police hierarchy e.g. Circles, Sub-Divisions, Districts, Range, Zones, Police Headquarters, scientific and technical organizations such as Finger Print Bureaux and Forensic Labs. In March, the media reported on the first police post in the country to be linked to CCTNS. Prisons can also be integrated at a later stage.
At the launch, the Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi spoke about the importance of changing mindsets and said that technology can only be embraced collectively within an institution.
In April, the Indian government announced several initiatives to improve access to legal services for the poor, especially in the rural areas of the country, using tele-law and connecting people to pro-bono lawyers using a mobile app.
Watch the video of the speeches from the launch here.