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Electronic Petitions and Legal Minimalism

The need for technological developments to be incorporated into the procedure and paperwork of litigation petitions.

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Problem in Status Quo

A standard process of litigation is known to be very cumbersome. Everyone has to deal with innumerable visits to court and endless paperwork. The process of litigation is intertwined with inefficient administration in Courts as well. For a simple litigation, all parties involved have to go through countless stacks of paper in the form or orders, plaints, written statements etc. A single case has various stages to it and each stage leads to a multiplicity of paper and excessive documentation. A paperless system of filing of petitions would ensure an environmental friendly judiciary and a substantial amount of time saved, not to mention bringing additional transparency and efficiency.

Applying Minimalism to the Process of E-Filing

The judiciary has already shown that it is willing to embrace minimalism and move towards a digitised system. Instances like electronic recording of witness statements, a digital FIR process being envisioned; are indicators of change. Thus, it is obvious to see that the Government is already taking steps towards a minimalist approach and is keen on digitisation. Hopefully this will make the potential change quicker.

Implementation

a. Technology

Implementation of a process where petitions can be filed is not as hard as it sounds. Various tech companies across the world have proven to be proficient in generating a system where e-filing can be achieved, as can be seen by the following case study:

The Government of Brazil decided to address the critical problem of overloading of litigations in the court, as it was burdened with approximately 2 million cases per year. The Government wanted to address the need of speedy justice. Microsoft came up with an integrated set of technologies which served as a solution to the specific problems at hand. The software company focused on making the system easy to use and driven by consumer need and demand. The system is capable of handling about 30,000 processes a day, which adds up to an estimated 7 million different litigations a year.

The digitization and usage of ICT by courts in Brazil has gained legitimacy after a federal law was passed to that effect in 2006. The judiciary is to achieve the efficiency that electronic filing promises.

b. Security of Identity

A possible obstacle may arise in cases of fraud or other problems but given that the process is online, the verification of identity of a person is made easy. The idea of a Digital India is to make online copies of documents available and this can be achieved by adapting minimalism.

c. Certification of Documents

Documents like say, written statements, affidavits etc. are required to be certified in court for the purposes of admissibility of the same. The same can easily be done online at the time of submission of the documents electronically to vouch for their authenticity.

Benefits of Electronic- Filing

E-Filing and other information and technology sharing initiatives are extremely beneficial to the public as it reduces congestion and delay by doing away with cumbersome processes. It facilitates a unique model of justice which allows an aggrieved party to obtain justice whilst in the comfort of his/her four walls. A large number of judicial processes and justice systems can become well connected if they use electronic systems efficiently.

Conclusion

The electronic system (with special reference to the E-filing of petitions) is one that is achievable and practically implementable as well, as seen by the Government’s efforts to digitise the judiciary. All that is needed is a concrete step toward complete digitisation of processes, which will greatly benefit the judicial system in India.

Originally published at legalminimalist.org on February 23, 2017.

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