POOLING CASES FOR IMPLEMENTING PAPERLESS COURTS: A PROPOSAL

Sagar Saxena, an E-court Evangelist is of the view that all admission stage matters can be heard by paperless E-courts. This is truly possible, as the admission hearings comprise pleadings only by the petitioner and are typically short with minimum requirements of books and cases. Paperless E-courts can also be very easily implemented for matters that are ripe for final hearing. Cases to be listed before paperless E-courts can be narrowed down by the subject matter. Courts can pick up cases in one or two subject areas as per their own experience to pilot the concept. For example, bail matters being heard in the wake on Hon’ble Supreme Court’s recent directions. Any other case where legal aid is being provided and the other party is a state government can also be an easy candidate for this being pooled into this category. Execution matters arising out of matrimonial disputes or family disputes could be another such type of cases. The suggestion to initially keep the paperless courts restricted to cases where counsels appearing are from legal services or the state panel is being made keeping in mind the ease of training these counsels. The counsels can be mobilized quickly and onboarded on the paperless courts. Those among the on-boarded who are motivated can also be trained as local trainers to spread the capacity to onboard the entire Bar to the processes of Paperless E-courts.  

The implementation team in each pool can be one set of lawyers and court staff passionate about this cause. Pool 1 can be of cases where only two parties are to be heard and the matter is ready for final hearing. To start with, one can narrow down the category of cases to the ones which have one side as a legal aid counsel and the other side is state counsel. Also, cases where instructions are needed from clients or senior counsels need to be briefed can also be excluded.

Pool 2 could be of cases that are otherwise ripe for hearing, but the arguing counsels need instructions. These cases can be put in the pipeline and readied in say 30 days from Day 1 to be upgraded as Pool 1 case. Technology can be useful in this as well, but this will require one to one conferencing, which now does not need much intervention as most people use one or the other video calling software. For those in any custodial institution or care facility, existing video-conferencing facility can be leveraged.

Pool 3 could be of cases where appeals have to be drafted and filed by legal aid lawyers. In these cases, the lawyers may be asked to draft and carry out e-filing. Once e-filing is done, e-service should also be done in addition to the physical services. The admission hearings can be carried out very easily through the e-courts. Pool 4 can comprise of after-notice matters on appeal. This will lead to the testing and implementation of e-court proceedings relating to completion of pleading. Remaining matters can be taken up by e-courts and though about later.