Cuttack: Chief Justice of India (CJI) D.Y. Chandrachud on Saturday lauded Odisha Government for allocating required funds for the development of infrastructure for ICT initiatives in the judiciary in the State.
“I am frequently visiting Odisha…because I am a proud son-in-law of Odisha. My wife is Odia. And another reason is I have been engaged with a series of discussions with Orissa High Court Chief Justice S Muralidhar about the e-court initiatives taken in the state,” the CJI said while addressing at the Neutral Citation for the Indian Judiciary and National Conference on digitization.
“Whenever the ICT initiative is being taken, Dr.Muralidhar told me that the Government of Odisha is always coming forward to support the judiciary,” he said.
He further said that the purpose of pitchforking technology is not to place it away from citizens but to reach out to the common citizens of the country. The total outlay for Phase III of the e-court initiative is Rs 7210 crore, which is going to be executed between 2023-27.
While Rs 2024 core is provided for 2023-24, Rs 1906 crore earmarked for 2024-25, Rs 1523 crore for 2025-26 and Rs 1552 crore for 2026-27.
“Though the Ministry of Finance told us to make it a Central Sponsored Scheme so that the States will bear their shares. However, from the past we have noticed that the funding by States is not uniform,” he pointed out. So, 100 percent fund will be provided by the Government of India, he added.
“When we pitched for this budget, not a single rupee was cut by the Union Government,” he added.
“Odisha has opened virtual courts in 22 districts. We cannot have benches of the High Court in as many districts as we have set up virtual courts. The opening of virtual courts will ensure access to justice for all those who don’t have access to the High Court,” the CJI pointed out.
Some of the finest lawyers are not only confined to the capital city of the States. Many of them even don’t move to the capital cities for lack of resources and family reasons. For a variety of reasons, they are confined to their own districts. So why cannot they present their cases before the High Court, asked the CJI.
He said live streaming of court proceedings has a flip side. So, the judges need to be trained because every word that we say is up in the public realm, he said.
While addressing at the Neutral Citation for the Indian Judiciary and National Conference on digitization, Chandrachud said, “Today, most of the High Courts are doing live streaming on YouTube….you have these little clips about a judge in the Patna High Court asking an IAS officer as to why he was not appropriately dressed…… or somebody in the Gujarat High Court saying something about why a lawyer is not ready with her cases.”
“So, a lot of funny stuff is going on the YouTube, which we need to control because this is serious stuff…what happens in a court is extremely serious stuff. Livestreaming we are doing has a flip side. We as judges need to train ourselves as we are now working in the age of social media,” said the CJI.
CJI Shri Chandrachud said he realised this during the live stream constitution bench arguments. “Very often citizens don’t realize that what we say in the course of hearing is to open up a dialogue. What you said does not necessarily reflect what you have decided in a case. Some cases…it may and some cases it may not. But, people don’t understand this at large,” he said.
So live streaming or interface with social media places new demands on us as judges. We need to create a robust cloud infrastructure for live streaming, the CJI said.
He further said there is a need for creating cloud infrastructure for live streaming and it is perhaps one way to have a central national cloud infrastructure and additional hardware for courts.
Speaking about his vision to create paperless and virtual courts, the CJI said, “The Supreme Court is not the Supreme Court of Tilak Marg, it is for India, of India by India. Likewise, each High Court is not the High Court of the capital of the State, but the citizens across the State.”
Delivering the welcome address in the inaugural function Dr. Justice S. Muralidhar, Chief Justice, High Court of Orissa said the Conference is primarily aimed at discussing on how to implement the National Action Plan of Phase-III of e-Courts Project.
He said the ICT Initiatives like virtual hearing, live streaming, e-Filing, Paperless Courts, digitization of case records etc. which gave fillip to the legal system after the Covid pandemic are no longer new and it’s time to effect completely transformation of judiciary.
Thanking the Union Government for the financial support for Phase-III of the e-Courts Project Dr. Muralidhar stressed upon the need of discussing the road map for completion of the task.
Expressing concern over the misuse of ICT tools he flagged the issue of data integrity and security and emphasized on framing of a Comprehensive Judicial Data Security Policy for protecting the confidential details of the citizens.
The Chief Justice also stressed upon the need for the judiciary to build its own resources in the field of ICT instead of depending on the private agencies. Dr. Muralidhar said that training of Judicial Officers, Court staff, lawyers and their clerks on ICT Initiatives for real transformation.
SC Judge, Justice Rajesh Bindal expressed concern that all the High Courts are not at the same level in implementing the e-Courts project and the ICT Initiatives which is creating an imbalance in the Pan India scenario.
Justice Bindal said that non-utilization of the funds provided by the Government is a major hindrance in implementation of the Action Plan under e-Courts Project.
Lauding the efforts of Dr. S. Muralidhar, Justice Bindal said that RRDC and Museum of Justice are the examples of how an effective leadership can change the scenario.