Legal and Judicial Information System
National Information System for Science & Technology, New Delhi - 10016
The Judicial System in India
The administrative system of justice in India is divided between local courts, high courts (state level) and the Supreme Court. The judiciary makes decisions on the basis of :
(a) various provisions of law enacted by the Parliament and the state legislatures; and
(b) the records of similar cases decided by various courts in the past.
The Supreme Court is the apex court in the country which has the authority to interpret the provisions of the Constitution and to hear appeals involving Constitutional provisions.
Use of Information Technology in the Judicial System
The text of all the statutes enacted either in the Parliament or in state ligislatures are available in bound volumes. Similarly the records of cases decided in different courts are also available in printed forms. Reference to such records, however, takes considerable time as one has to identify the relevant reference books and search for the information.
The application of information technology (IT) is extremely relevant in the judicial system. By converting the manual records of judiciary into databases, one can easily access all the past cases involving any particular legal provision or situation.
Another area of IT application is the management of current cases. In the case of courts with a large number of pending cases, it is possible to introduce a management information system by which each case registered can be processed systematically and completed without any avoidable delays.
Both private and Government sectors are active in the field of legal and judiciary information system. While the activities of Government sector (NIC) are largely limited to the management of cases in the Supreme Court, the private sector has come out with useful databases and information systems. One of the major contributions in this regard is the CD-ROM title TAEXPERT from Odyssey Technology Pvt. Ltd, Madras, which gives a comprehensive electronic manual for direct tax decisions of various high courts and the Supreme Court.
The Spectrum Business Support Pvt. Ltd has come out with a product called Jurex which is a search and query based database package containing information about all the previous cases decided by the Supreme Court in the fields of direct and indirect taxes, company law, central excise and customs and labour laws.
Jurix has two versionsJurix Personal and Grand Jurix. While Jurix Personal is sold in the form of a set of floppies, Grand Jurix is its online version stored in an in-house computer of the company. While Jurix Personal provides the user with the titles of various cases from1980 onwards, Grand Jurix provides full decisions and covers the entire gamut of law from 1950 onwards. The coverage of the database is being expanded by including other areas of legal systems like criminal procedure code, civil procedure code, etc.
It is a modular package on DOS platform. The users of the package can access only the brief summary or head note of different Supreme Court judgements. After selecting the cases the users have to refer to the libraries to get full text of the judgement. The package would give information on the exact volume and page number of the full judgement.
It offfers the full text of the judgement. The database contains all judgements of the Supreme Court on diffferent cases in its seven modules, which are updated every month. It contains records of cases since 1931. The database could be accessed by dial-up or leased lines. The system is compatible with DOS, UNIX, Netware, Windows and OS/2.
COURTNIC - The Court Information System
The National Informatics Centre (NIC) is working on the implementation of an information system COURTIS (Court Information System) to help the upholders of the law to streamline their operations. The Court Information System (COURTNIC) and the Judicial Information System (JUDIS) are the two major components.
COURTNIC is an information system designed to provide information on the Apex Court to a wide range of users. COURTNIC will cater to the information requirements of judges of the lower courts, advocates, litigant public and others who are interested in the judgements of the highest Court in the country. The information will be available to the litigant public at nominal charges.
The datbases are created by NIC and maintained by the Supreme Court. The database at present is being used for decision making by the Registry of the Supreme Court of India. To start with, COURTNIC information will be made available though NICNET to all NIC Computer Centres located at all District Headquarters and State capitals, for the litigant community. NICNET is soon to be extended to cover 18 high courts of the country.
The main objectives of COURTNIC are :
Provide online Apex Court information to the litigant community across the country within the shortest possible time
Inculcate informatics culture among the litigant public to enhance their confidence in the judicial process of the Country
Help the Registry of the Apex Court in the execution of its functions by providing easy flow of information.
COURTNIC is user-friendly giving options on Cases Status Report, lower court case details, eliminated matters, daily list, etc.
JUDIS : Judgement Information System
Implementation of JUDIS is a high-water mark in the NIC's novel project. All high courts are interconnected through NICNET and most of them are taking out daily case lists on computers. Information on cases pending in the Supreme Court is available from any high court in the country using this system.
JUDIS is a comprehensive Online Caselaw Library that contains all reportable judgements of the Supreme Court of India from 1950 onwards. JUDIS provides a facility to find relevant precedents to a case virtually on any subject that is dealt by the Supreme Court of India. Case citations can be easily found through JUDIS, in addition to the full text of the judgement. JUDIS is meant for lawyers, judges, law officers, legal experts and even for ordinary litigants.
JUDIS can be accessed from any of the 750 nodes of NICNET across the Country.
The legal and judicial information system has still not become an important input in the administration of justice in India. It can only be achieved if the Government Policy on the computerisation of judicial system and the use of such information technology products in legal cases are specified for ensuring the required standards of quality. It is also important to specify an agency which can accredit such products.