Digital filing of cases would make the judicial system “extremely transparent” and rule out any manipulation of records, Chief Justice of India (CJI) J S Khehar said today. Introducing the ‘Integrated Case Management Information System’ of digital filing process in the apex court, the CJI said he intended to put the system in place in all the 24 high courts after it is introduced here and would like to see that it takes place in the lower courts across the country. The Chief Justice of India was speaking at a function attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and a large number of judges from the SC and High Courts and senior lawyers. At the event, the Prime Minister uploaded ‘Integrated Case Management Information System’ on the Supreme Court website at the function held at Vigyan Bhavan here. “I propose to take this system to all the High Courts and then to all the district courts. This means a litigant will file one case only in his lifetime, insofar as the paper book is concerned,” Justice Khehar said.
“This is a process which will ensure absolutely a transparent system. A system which cannot be breached. A system where the documents cannot be manipulated. A system where the records are there for keeps …And for doing this, we do not need to change any rules. This digitised process replaces the pleadings,” he said. Referring to his observations made during a hearing that he would make the Supreme Court “paperless”, the CJI said the system would be different from the present e-filing process as lawyers will be required to file only the grounds of appeal in the apex court and the remaining judicial files would be automatically transferred. “This programme is the resource from the database which exists. So if you are filing an appeal in the Supreme Court from a case in the High Court, all you need to do is to put in the number of the case you are filing.
“And besides that, you have to file the grounds. As soon as you file the grounds, the entire paper book of the High Court gets transferred to the Supreme Court. So the paperwork of the Supreme Court is finished. It is replaced by the grounds of appeal,” the CJI said. Justice Khehar said the move would be of “great environmental help as well” as it would lessen the use of paper. Addressing the programme titled ‘Moving towards, security and transparency from a paper court, to a digital court’, he said all parties in the High Courts would be automatically informed and they can download the grounds of appeals challenging the orders. The new digitised system would ensure that the litigants come to know the exact cost of filing, besides the date of filing the appeals in the Supreme Court, and nobody would be able to “manipulate” records initially filed and “nobody can lie” that he has already filed them, Justice Khehar said.
The government departments and common litigants will come to know instantly about the filing of the case and may ask their lawyers to download the paper book from the website. The CJI said with the introduction of new system, every bit of the filing process would be monitored and a litigant will file one case in his life-time in a dispute from the trial court to the Supreme Court. He said he has held discussions with the bar bodies on the issue and have been telling them that it would lessen their work and save their time and effort. “If there is any person who wants to add any additional documents, he may move an IA (interim application) and file the documents. If he wants to have a part of the pleadings translated, he can move another IA and translate that part of the pleading.
“So the process remains the same, rule remains the same. Its only extremely, extremely transparent, extremely, extremely accurate. It can’t be breached..,” he said. Elaborating on the benefits of the new system, the CJI said “nobody now can say he has filed, when not filed, because the client knows the moment you have filed. The moment you file, the filing system tells you about what court fees you have to pay. And so does your client know that this much is the amount of court fees involved.”
“If you have delayed, the system tells you. What is the delay for limitation and what should be your application and how many days of delay must you explain? This system tells your client, the day process (notice) is served upon the other party, the day the case is taken up, the days on which various orders are passed,” he said. Interestingly, the system has a feature which gives access to information to every department of the Centre and state governments and “the moment a case is filed from that department, it will tell you that you are the respondent. The department has immediate access to the case on the date of filing”, he said.