E-Courts in Indian Perspective

Judiciary is vital for any organized society. Otherwise, there will be only a law of the jungle where might is right. Indian judiciary has maintained its independence guaranteed in the Constitution and also by its action and healthy traditions, which have been set up. Nevertheless, there is a negative aspect of the Indian judiciary. This is related to the enormous delay in disposing of cases. One estimate is that if the Indian courts were not to take more cases from today and dispose off the cases at the present rate, then, it may take nearly 300 years to clear the present back log of around 30 million cases pending in the various courts of India. It is in this context that e-courts offer a ray of hope.

The extent to which IT is used in the judiciary can be looked at from two angles. One is the use of information technology to improve the present paper based system by bringing in the advantage of IT to increase the speed enormously and also bring greater transparency. More extensive use of IT can definitely improve the system so far as speed is concerned. Another area where IT can be used is in the form of video conferencing to examine under trial prisoners in the courts. Recently, the courts have taken the issue of video conferencing as a means of saving time and a matter of security.The Indian Information Technology Act visualizes the extension of Indian court’s jurisdiction outside the country though I wonder whether this principle has been tested. Broadly, it is the international nature of the cyber space and cyber crime as brought about the need for an international convention and principles. It becomes very necessary for the judiciary particularly the law enforcing forces like the police as well as the judges and the lower judiciary to become up-to-date in these aspects of information technology. It is estimated massively about more than 200 thousand police personnel and the judiciary at the district level onwards will have to be trained. This is a major challenge facing the government in preparing the country for more effective e-governance particularly enforcing the laws to e-courts.

Ultimately, e-courts will have to deal with the crimes in cyber space and for this three aspects have to be borne in mind. It is necessary to study the criminal mind in the cyber space and design system so that the crimes are checked with the maximum extent possible. This means that for bringing criminal in cyber space to justice, the police and the law investigating agencies as well as judiciary will have to be trained and the conventions will have to be established about bringing the guilty to book. International cooperation becomes very vital. In this context, the role of international bodies will become significant, especially, when it comes to drafting of the cyber laws and their implementation in order to evolve right standards and practices in the emerging area of e-courts.

Keeping in mind the importance of e-governance department of Information Technology and Telecommunication is already working on the important projects to make e-governance a success in India. These are the following items which are already in progress under Mission Mode Projects (MMPs),which haveidentified on the basis of high citizen/ business interface, Integrated e-BIZ, EDI, India Portal, Common Service Centers, EG Gateway, E Courts, E-Office, E Procurement.

Central Govt. is working on e-Income Tax, e-Central Excise, e-Passports/Visa &, Immigration, MCA 21, National ID / UID, e-Pensions. States are also working on the following projects: e-Agriculture, e-Land Records, e-Transport, e-Treasuries, e-Commercial Taxes, e-Gram Panchayats, e-Municipalities, e-Registration, e-Police, Employment, e-Exchangeande-District.By Industry Initiative, e-Banking, e-Insurance are already in progress while States can add up to 5, state specific e-Projects

Under NeGP as a MMP, it is proposed to implement ICT in Indian judiciary in three phases over a period of five years. The project scope is to develop, deliver, install and implement automated decision making and decision support system in 700 courts of Delhi, Bombay, Kolkata & Chennai; 900 courts in the 29 capital city courts of states and UTs and 13000 district and subordinate courts.

The objectives of the project are: to help judicial administrations of the courts in streamlining their day-to-day activities; to assist judicial administration in reducing the pendency of cases; to provide transparency of information to the litigants; to provide access to legal and judicial databases to the judges.

The project has been devised following the report submitted by the E-committee on national policy & technology in the Indian judiciary. The project will be implemented in 3 phases spread over a period of 5 years at a cost of Rs.854 crores. In the first phase, computer rooms & judicial service centres would set up in all 2500 court complexes. About 15,000 judicial officers would be provided with laptops. Digital inter-connectivity would be established between all courts from the taluk level to the apex court. The project also aims at creation of e-filing facility in the Supreme Court & high courts. The first phase also envisages development of comprehensive & integrated customised software application for the entire judicial system with regional languages support. in the second phase, it would be possible to provide ICT coverage of judicial process from filing to execution level & also of all administrative activities. In third phase, it would be creating of information gateways between courts & public agencies & departments. The project is expected to lead to complete demystification of the adjudicatory process thereby ensuring transparency, accountability & cost-effectiveness

In the backdrop of Indian scenario the steps taken by Delhi High Court is highly appreciable which is going to establish the first e-court of India.

The same would be operational by December 8, 2009 in the court of Justice S Ravindra Bhat. It intends to provide SMS alerts about court hearings to advocates and litigants, summons sent through emails, e-stamps instead of stamp paper, recording of evidence through video-conferencing, virtual tour of court premises, etc. Being in the initial phase, other crucial aspects of e-courts would be taken up in the due course of time. ‘The necessity of e-courts has arisen due to shortcomings of a paper-based system like storage, maintenance and wastage of a lot of paper.

Delhi High Court is also working on the project in which live court proceedings would also be seen on the website. The project will be first started in one court and will soon be started in all other courts, including the five district courts in Delhi.

For lawyers and litigants, the e-courts will be a great help as it would enable them to stop carrying bulky files to the court and just a USB device or the CD of their case.

‘Recording of evidence in any case will be done electronically. Court is also planning to have centres at various places in Delhi from where the person can record his statement and the court can see it via video-conferencing. With the help of e-courts, warrants, court notices and other documents can be sent via e-mail to the party or the post office concerned from where a service slip will be sent back confirming the receipt and court fees can be paid online so that entire work is done at a click of mouse. Courts will provide adequate facility to the lawyers while they argue their case using the laptops. Judges will also be given a touch screen handbook which will be like their computer screen and they can read it like a file. E-courts will definitely enhance transparency, accountability and accessibility for a litigant.

Source: http://ecourts.nic.in/admin1/Informatics.pdf visited on 29th November, 2009, 9.15 PM IST.

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Legal Education in Indian Perspective

Abstract

Spiritually, it is believed that the life on the earth is regulated by the laws of the Lord or the Divinity. It is ‘rule of law’, that draws the essential difference between human society and animal world. It is the legal education that plays an important role in promoting social justice. Law professionals are characterised as ‘Social engineers’. Law as a profession and legal education as a discipline was not a popular choice of the students in India prior to the introduction of five year law course, most of the students who performed well in their Intermediate Education aspired to study medicine, engineering, computers, business management and accounting. Unlike India, the situation prevalent in England, America and in many other developed countries is convincingly different. The admissions to law schools in these parts of the world are highly competitive. In the present era of information capitalism, economic liberalization and WTO, legal profession in India has to cater to the needs of a new brand of legal consumer/client namely the foreign companies or collaborations. In the changed scenario, the additional roles by law professionals to play are that of policy planner, business advisor, negotiator among interest groups, experts in articulation and communication of ideas, mediator, lobbyist, law reformer etc. Due to expanding role of law professionals our curriculum should be enriched with all interdisciplinary courses which are must to produce the competent law professionals of 4th generation.

Full paper is available at the following link.

http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1513826

Digital Economy Bill regarding File sharing laws to hit websites and newsgroups

The UK Govt. is planning to award itself powers to change copyright law almost at will, in expectation that new anti-peer-to-peer laws will drive infringement to other services such as Rapidshare and newsgroups.

The measure, which is the most severe contained in the Digital Economy Bill published yesterday, will be interpreted as a major victory for rights holder organisations. It will grant the Business Secretary Lord Mandelson and his successor’s undprecedented control over civil enforcement of copyright.

The Indian Law Institute offers courses on IPR and Cyberlaw

The Indian Law Institute Invited applications for admission to the following online certificate courses. Intellectual Property Rights and Information Technology in the Internet Age & Cyber Laws courses.

Duration : Three Months (14th December, 2009 to 14th March, 2010)

Last date of submission of Forms : 11th December, 2009.

Courses offered in this University :
Ph.D. programmein
LL.B. Degree
LL.M. Degree
P.G. Diploma Courses 2009-2010
Alternative Dispute Resolution(ADRs)
Corporate Laws & Management
Cyber Law
Drafting of Legislation, Treaties and Agreements
Human Rights Law
Intellectual Property Rights Laws
International Trade Law
Labour Law
Securities & Banking Laws
Tax Law
Online Course in (1) Intellectual Property Rights and Information Technology in the Internet Age
(2) Cyber Laws

Contact Details :
THE INDIAN LAW INSTITUTE
(Deemed University)
Bhagwandas Road, New Delhi – 110001
Phone Office: 23387526, 23389429, 23388849, 23386321, 23387873 Library: 23389849
Fax : 91-11-23782140 email: ili, ili

Website : www.ilidelhi.org

Important points of the Fourth Session of WIPO’s Committee on Development and Intellectual Property (CDIP) held from 16 November 2009 to 20 November 2009.

The WIPO Secretariat project proposal (CDIP/4/3) on intellectual property and the public domain was based on four components 1) copyright, 2) trademarks, 3) patents and 4) traditional Knowledge (TK) and traditional cultural expressions (TCEs). However, after extensive discussions on this project, a revised project proposal has been presented to WIPO Member States Friday afternoon (20 November 2009) for their consideration. One major change has been the deletion of the component on traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions.

The WIPO Secretariat proposed a work program on copyright and related rights with respect to the public domain. In his presentation on WIPO’s project, Richard Owens (WIPO Secretariat) noted Egypt’s request that the studies make it clear that there is a "relationship between limitations and exceptions to copyright and the public domain. The scope of the proposed study had two parts: an illustrative comparison of national legislation that directly, or indirectly, defines the public domain (as far as copyright is concerned), and a survey of initiatives and tools, technical and legal, which facilitate access, use, identification and location of public domain material.

The importance of registration/deposit of copyright and related rights in the evolving digital environment, beyond the traditional functions of facilitating the exercise of rights, is highlighted for example, as a means to prove the existence and/or ownership of a work, and to identify works that have fallen into the public domain. Uncertainty over copyright ownership and status of works may result in works not being made available to the public, even where no living person or legal entity asserts claims to ownership of copyright, or where the owner has no objection to such use. With respect to works of unknown authorship or in respect of which the owner cannot be identified (“orphan works”), uncertainty can undermine the economic incentive to create, imposing additional costs on subsequent users/creators wishing to incorporate material taken from existing works into new creations. Understanding how different registration and deposit systems function (both those established in the public sector, as well as the emerging private ones) will thus prove useful in order to identify works that have fallen into the public domain.

It is important to understand how different jurisdictions define the public domain, directly or indirectly, and to identify the existing initiatives and tools, technical and legal, which can facilitate access to, use, identification and location of public domain material. In addition, there is a need to clarify the relationship between copyright limitations and exceptions and the public domain, including legal, conceptual and functional aspects. In relation to copyright registration systems, the role of Rights Management Information (RMI) has tremendous potential for identifying and locating content. RMI is increasingly used in the networked environment, which helps users to customize their searches, find the content they are seeking, and where appropriate, enter into licensing agreements with right owners.

The new survey would expand on the 2005 Survey in at least four different respects, namely, (i) enable scrutiny of the operational requirements for voluntary registration/deposit systems in the digital environment and available search tools; (ii) include information on how Member States with voluntary registration systems address the issue of orphan works in those systems; (iii) solicit information on recorded/registered public domain subject matter; and (iv) attempt to include all Member States. The Survey would include conclusions based on the data received by Member States.

The study would also include a preliminary analysis of the possible implications of a rich and accessible public domain. Private Copyright Documentation Systems and Practices survey will cover the use of copyright documentation, including in the form of RMI, by bodies such as collective management organizations or the Creative Commons System, and would examine how these systems identify, or might contribute to identifying, content that is protected or in the public domain.

In the aforementioned paragraph, Bolivia insisted on replacing the word inserting the word "affect" in place of the original word "facilitate". Originally, Bolivia wanted to insert the phrase "or impede" after the word "facilitate" and before "access". After a long negotiation with the United States, the result was "affect" replacing "facilitate". Bolivia’s premise was that technical and legals tools could "affect" access, use identification and location of public domain material" whereas using the word "facilitate" would prejudge the scoping study.

Discussions regarding patent is as follows: Information dissemination policies, the legal framework and technical infrastructures all play an important role in supporting access to and use of publicly available patent-related information and in facilitating the identification of technology that is in the public domain. These studies include useful information about the role of the patent system in the identification, access and use of technology that is in the public domain. As explained in the study on dissemination of patent information, the public domain in relation to patent law consists of knowledge, ideas and innovations, over which no person or organization has any proprietary rights. Subject matter in the public domain with respect to patents could be identified by confirming the absence of legal restrictions on use (i.e., exclusion from patent protection under applicable laws), the rejection of a patent application, the expiration of patent protection, non-renewal, and revocation or invalidation of a patent. However, in practice, it is often hard for the public to identify the validity of relevant patents due to the lack of effective tools in many jurisdictions such as patent legal status databases accessible to the public.

Due to fast growing IPR regime, India requires capacity building in the field of IPR human resources.

Intellectual property is an increasingly important generator of economic, social and cultural growth and development. A clear understanding of the intellectual property system has, therefore, become a necessity for all those associated with creative and innovative endeavor – from policymakers and business executives to educators and archivists, as well as artists and inventors themselves. A solid grasp of the mechanics of the system and a keen awareness of its enormous potential and power are key in leveraging the opportunities it offers – at all levels.

The potential impact of intellectual property assets is so great that it is certain to have a considerable effect on national and international economic development in the future. Despite this, the area of IP education is relatively new to many academic institutions, and principles and methods in teaching IP are still evolving.

The Globalization and the rapid proliferation of technology, coupled with the intangible nature of intellectual property create challenges for those businesses wishing to protect their inventions and technological breakthroughs, brands, and business methods in domestic and foreign markets. With this spurt in the R&D activity, the number of patents being filed internationally and in India has also gone up. The filing and litigation in other IPs, such as Trademarks, Copyrights, and Designs etc. is also rising.

India is ranked as the fastest emerging economy and a major global player in the years to come. The country has the largest scientific and technical human resources among top five countries in the world. With the advent of WTO regime, it has integrated its IP legislations in compliance with TRIPS agreement and is poised to be a destination for research and innovation.

Such transformation requires capacity building in the field of IPR human resources. Acquisition of patents, prosecution and protection require training and skills of IP law for legal professionals.

President of India inaugurated 2 days international terrorism conference today in Delhi and tomorrow Vice-President, Hamid Ansari would be the Chief Guest at the Valedictory Session

Chief Justice of India K. G. Balakrishnan chaired the inaugural session while Union Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily, Minister of State for Planning and Parliamentary Affairs V. Narayanaswamy, Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Chief Justice of Singapore, Chan Sek Keong and Judge, International Court of Justice, Justice Awn S. Al-Khasawneh were the Special Guests.

Cyber Law and other contemporary topics to be discussed in 24 working sessions at the meet. Important areas of discussion are International Terrorism, International Law and Global Efforts to Combat Threats: Strengthening the Linkage, Role of Law Enforcement Agencies in Maintaining Law and Order and National Security, Drug Trafficking: Menace to Society and Enforcement.

National Law Day Awards-2009 are also presented on the same occasion to Haryana Chief Minister Mr. Hooda, Justice Arijit Pasayat, Chairman, Competition Appellate Tribunal, Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam, K.V. Viswanathan, (civil law); Shardul Shroff, (corporate law); Ramesh Gupta, (criminal law); Ajit Mishra (young lawyer); Vijay Goel (commercial law).

The conference is jointly organised by International Council of Jurists (ICJ), All India Bar Association, All India Senior Advocates Association and Indian Council of Jurists.