CJI Chandrachud Optimistic About ‘Huge Budget’ for e-Courts Project Benefit


In a promising step towards modernizing the judicial system, Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud expressed confidence in the impact of a substantial budget allocated for the third phase of the e-courts project. The infusion of resources is expected to bring technological advancement to the functioning of the judiciary, with a particular focus on enhancing the capabilities of lower courts.

Justice Chandrachud’s comments came in response to senior advocate Dushyant Dave’s observation that lower courts could greatly benefit from technological integration.

The Chief Justice, leading a Constitution Bench that is deliberating the challenge to the abrogation of Article 370, shared an incident during the COVID-19 pandemic that highlighted the importance of technology. He revealed that a High Court faced a dilemma when it lacked funds to procure essential video conferencing software while the nation was under lockdown.

“During that time, there was a complete shutdown, but the courts had to function,” remarked the CJI. To address the situation, some licenses from the Supreme Court were transferred to the affected High Court.

Turning towards the future, Justice Chandrachud expressed optimism about the significant budget allocation for the ongoing e-courts project, emphasizing the intent to enhance the technological capabilities of lower courts. He said, “But now we have a huge budget… we are working on it [making lower court technology friendly].”

In February of this year, the Union Budget introduced the launch of the third phase of the e-courts project with a budget of ₹7,000 crore. The first two phases were executed with budgets of ₹639.411 crore and ₹1,670 crore, respectively, demonstrating the escalating investment in technological transformation within the judicial sector.

Speaking during his Independence Day address, Chief Justice Chandrachud highlighted that Phase III of the e-Courts project aims to interconnect courts nationwide. This phase also focuses on establishing the infrastructure for paperless courts, digitalizing court records, and establishing advanced e-sewa kendras (service centers) within court complexes.

The amplification of the budget for the third phase was driven by the success of virtual courts and the clear necessity, witnessed during the pandemic, to integrate technology into efficient justice administration.

The e-committee of the Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice Chandrachud, defined the e-courts project as an “integrated mission mode project” designed to assist the judiciary’s transformation by incorporating Information and Communication Technology (ICT) tools and methods.

The e-courts project, initiated in 2007, aligns with the ‘National Policy and Action Plan for Implementation of Information and Communication Technology in Indian Judiciary.’ This policy, formulated by the eCommittee of the Supreme Court in 2005 and approved by the CJI, laid the groundwork for modernizing the judiciary through technology.

The vision document draft, ‘Digital Courts Vision & Roadmap Phase III of the eCourts Project,’ prepared by the Supreme Court e-committee, outlines the priority of creating a core digital infrastructure that facilitates dispute resolution services for the judiciary and solutions for dispute containment and resolution within the ecosystem.

The e-courts project aims for a pragmatic hybrid model, allowing for both physical and virtual courts to coexist harmoniously. The e-committee document clarifies that this hybrid approach is intended to complement, rather than replace, physical courtrooms.

As Chief Justice Chandrachud’s optimism regarding the ‘huge budget’ for the e-courts project resonates, it signifies a progressive stride towards a tech-savvy judiciary that is better equipped to meet the evolving demands of justice administration in the digital age.

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