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Digitization of Delhi High Court: Lessons and Limitations

Digitization of Delhi High Court: Benefits & Limitations

Almost all stakeholders in the value chain of justice delivery have benefitted from digitization of DHC. The prominent among these benefits are:
  • The DHC has become a paperless court: Digital files have replaced paper. It has also helped vacate three floors in DHC premises.
  • Digitization has made the delivery of following services possible: fast tracking and retrieval of case status, enhanced data storage, categorization and tagging of cases, fast disposal of pending cases, transparency, less scope for maneouvering, and better court management (Singh 2016: 62-63). These services have enhanced the efficiency of the court staff, paving the way for the easy access to the relevant information by the justice seekers.
The success of digitization in the DHC is being retarded by few factors.
  • The most important limitation relates to the debate on ‘Computerized Filing versus e-Filing’. The DHC does not offer online e-Filing facility. For e-Filing at the DHC, one has to be physically present in the court.
  • Untrained staff and lack of logistics are also among major limitations which need to be addressed.
Promotion of m-Governance and introduction of technologies like IVRS System, Cloud Network will probably enhance the rate of success.

Effects of Infusion of Digital Technology in DHC

Infusion of technology affects the ways in which products are produced and services are delivered. New social and behavioral patterns are emerging as effect of traits of digitization. Products of digitization achieve a sense of tangibility as data is captured in digital formats. Besides, the portability and repeatability—two of the technology’s crucial attributes are derived from tangibility (Katz 2004: 1-2). When data becomes a ‘thing’ (tangible), it gets an unprecedented freedom to travel (Katz 2004:  3) which eases the distribution. Also, numerous copies of the file can be recreated, more precisely, self replicated.
Similarly, there is a change in receptivity of data by the public. The site and the forms of reception have been transformed. The site of consumption moves to private space, with redundancy in physical labour and space. Consequently, a behavioural change is being observed where the staff is getting more tech-savvy to cope with the adjustments required in the digital ecology.
Ownership or access to a digitally compatible receiving instrument is one of preconditions to avail benefits of digital governance within the DHC. It relates to the idea of complementary products. A particular technology requires a specific format. Software and hardware experiences complement each other. The idea is that, a party needs to possess a smart phone or desktop supporting specific file formats with access to internet to avail the facility of digitization-enabled e-courts. Therefore public’s access to judiciary-related data is mediated by a non-judicial entity. A pattern of ‘digital divide’ that emerges in the context of digitization of the DHC, limits the access to facilities of the e-court.

Article Published in the Indian Medialogue on 06.04.2017
by Akash Kumar Singh/4th Semester/CCMG/Jamia

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