When the judgment of a specially designated TADA court, which looked into 13 bomb blasts that rocked Mumbai on March 12, 1993, killing 257 people and injuring 713, was challenged in the Supreme Court of India, then Chief Justice of India, SH Kapadia entrusted the job to Justice P Sathasivam and Justice BS Chauhan. Justice P Sathasivam, who had to travel to his home district, wanted to save time and read the judgment on the way. So he requested his secretary to circulate the document. On hearing the request, she stood like a tree. Noticing her expression, Justice Sathasivam asked, “Madam what is the problem,” to which she replied, “Sir if you want to read the judgment, you will have to travel in a lorry; we will have to send the papers through truckload because the judgment is running into 24,000 pages, leave aside the documents.” Justice Sathasivam had to drop the idea.
However, when the hearing began, Gopal Subramaniam, who was then Solicitor General of India and led the argument for CBI, entered the court room without any documents. After occupying his seat, Subramaniam took out a small iPad and started arguing the case. “Though we struggled with 24,000 pages but with modern technology he was able to keep everything in a small disc, which took the session court 13 years and in the Supreme Cour full 10 months,” Justice Sathasivam, now governor of Kerala, remarked this in an Indian Express Group conference in Kochi.
Since 2013 when SC delivered the judgment in this case, a lot of things have changed in the technology world. And, to make the life of legal fraternity smooth, the American software maker Adobe has recently launched Adobe Document Cloud, which aims to reduce the hassle and clutter of dealing with paper through an end-to-end workflow that is built to manage document-intensive work.
Basically, with the introduction of different devices in the market, everybody wants to continue working without getting back to their main workstation. People want to start working on the phone, leave the work at a certain point, continue it on a tablet and perhaps end up the entire process at the desktop and then send the file for e-signature and track the progress—who opened it, at what time and what changes they have made. And, this is what Adobe Document Cloud promises to deliver.
The solution is built on Adobe Acrobat platform and the company says that it has improved Acrobat platform with the integration of Photoshop tools and electronic signature. Now one can directly work into Acrobat for everything.
People, in the legal profession, can use Acrobat and Microsoft Word for creating and sharing documents electronically but for closing the deal they often have to print, sign, scan, fax, and even mail them. What Adobe DC does is it integrates all these in a single platform with an easy to recognise and intuitive interface.
How does it work? Especially for contract management, Adobe has created about 300 standard templates for contract. Any individual can access them from the contract management system, fill out the necessary information, and send out the agreement without needing to consult first with the legal team.Similarly, any organisation can use these solutions to create a document in Acrobat, share it with the concerned person for approval, and access it anytime, anywhere.
Although, Adobe has just begun offering Adobe Acrobat DC and recently recruited the first resources in India to work on policy level with the government, the major challenge comes from the acceptance of e-signature and convincing the officers who may not have substantial exposure to the advanced technology. In India, the concept of electronic signature was introduced under section 3A of the Information Technology (Amendment) Act 2008. An e-sign can be used as an authorised electronic signature if such technique is notified by the central government in the official gazette or in the second schedule of the Act.
Many legal professionals are still reluctant to accept anything but a handwritten signature. However, Mike
Dillon, senior VP and general counsel at Adobe believes “From an evidence point of view, e-Sign provides better evidence because you know when something was sent, when it was opened, when it was returned, and when an e-signature was applied.” He adds that in India, the Prime Minister is trying to modernise citizen-centric services under the Digital India programme. Therefor e-Sign makes a lot of sense as it enables governments to connect and engage with the citizens using e-signature.
Sharing his experience, Dillon says, “Our department handles about 10,000 agreements, so for us Adobe DC bring huge efficiency, same could be enjoyed by any lawyer, legal firms, government organisations and corporates”.