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DISTRICT COURTS GO ONLINE  - MAHARASHTRA EXPERIENCE

 

Indian Judiciary has played a major role for Nation building and also contributed in mobilizing the society to deliver its best to the Nation. As on date, Litigations have risen in large numbers, thereby making it extremely difficult to manage it manually. It has therefore become essential to improve productivity of the judicial staff for efficiently disposing and following up cases registered with various Courts. A thought to provide ICT based Judicial Services to the Judges, Advocates/Lawyers and Citizen had become the need of the hour. It was decided to use new technology at marginal cost to achieve the final goal of catalyzing the judicial service to be provided to common man and at the same time concentrate on the internal Judicial Administration to monitor closely the issue of growing Pendency.  

The main objective of developing this application is to 

1.  Provide all backoffice activities of the Judiciary online.

2.  Facilitate Judicial Management to track the critical issue of Pendency.

3.  Provide online interface for the Citizens/Advocates to query the system.

 Computerisation in the Judiciary of Maharashtra state was taken up in early 1997 on Linux 2.0.30 and ā€˜Cā€™ Language. The software catered to basic needs of judiciary but due to limitations of technology available then it could not be enlarged. Keeping in view the growing needs of the Judiciary it was necessary to migrate from legacy system to new full-featured system.

             It was decided to complete the computerization in all the Courts of Maharashtra and National Informatics Centre Pune was entrusted to Understand the Requirements, Design, Develop and Implement the Software on a pilot basis at District & Sessions Court Pune.

Scope:-Application is designed to provide Citizen Interfaces like Touch Screen Kiosk, Display Screen, Interactive Voice Response System, internet based dissemination for the common man and Lawyer. For the Judiciary, monitoring the critical issue of Pendency, fast and accurate information retrieval and ease in entering the relevant data was considered as focal point to be addressed while understanding the requirements.  The decision makers were to be provided with full-featured facility through which the information required by them to manage several factors ranging from mobilizing Human Resources to assessment of the officers and also redressal of specific grievance was to be incorporated in the application.

Implementation:-The application is implemented in District Court Pune and at Small Causes Court Mumbai. Data is already ported from legacy system to the new system. At Pune, almost 26,500 cases (records) with 4,05,000 proceedings (records) is ported from the legacy system to the new system. Fresh data entry of Lower courts comprising of almost 1,40,000 Cases is completed and all the lower courts are online. Four Taluka Courts are also computerized and the data entry is also completed. Baramati is the first Taluka Court to be computerized in India. It was inaugurated at the hands of Hon. Chief Justice Maharashtra ON 8TH August 2004. Training for system administration was imparted to 4 users from the district court who are responsible for handling the system administration. Software usage training is imparted to 150 employees and they are now put on the job. The application has been implemented and the cases are accepted through the Filing Counter. PCs are installed in the courtrooms and the bench clerk carries out live entry of proceedings. Data is now updated in real time. Touch Screen Kiosk is installed in the court premises for Lawyers and Litigants. The application has become operational from 1st September 2003 in the District and Sessions Court Pune and from 1st December 2003 in Small Cause Court Mumbai and has satisfied with 99% uptime.

Impact on Society (G2C):- An Example from District Court Pune

            Stakeholders in the Judicial functioning are mainly Lawyers, Litigants and some portion of society related to cases pending in the court. The statistical analysis in District & Sessions Court Pune as on date shows that around 1,66,982 cases involving almost 3,33,964 (Petitioners/Respondents) individuals or organizations as main Litigants and 1,50,000 as extra parties totaling to 4,83,964 are the direct beneficiaries of application in the District & Sessions Court Pune ( Data excludes Taluka Courts). Apart from this, 6000 Advocates/Lawyers are users of the system.

Impact on Judiciary (G2G):- An Example from District Court Pune

Judicial Administration is bound by the stringent procedures of Law. Civil Manual and Criminal Manual provides the guidelines to be followed. In Pune District Court 90 Judges (27 from appellate and 63 from Lower Courts) and 200 employees contribute in day-to-day functioning. The work flow is managed by Case Information System by providing 270 features that includes necessary input screens, reports, queries etc. needed by the administrators for quick and efficient disposal of various activities of the court. Through these features it has become easier for the Court Staff to handle the routine work and speed up their functioning. It is ensured that work allotted to the employee is carried out at the expected time. The tedious task of searching the records to resolve various queries manually which required considerable time, is completely eliminated. The compliance on High Court queries is fulfilled in shortest time through the system. Most of the reminders and alerts on occurrence of certain function is automated.

Technical Innovation:-

            The main technical factor was to use open source technology to develop and implement the application. LAMP (Linux-OS, Apache-Web Server, MySQL-RDBMS, PHP-Scripting Language) was finalized after assessment of several other open source software. The software scalability and adoptability had necessitated its development to be three tier web based. The development commenced keeping in view the Quality Assurance requirements and complete QA process was adopted while designing and developing the application. Reports are generated in PDF formats, the binaries for generating the same was also provided on open source platform. QA process has considerably reduced the time required to test the application once it was ready. Application provides maintaining log of all Audit Trails.

In some of the courts of Maharashtra since the legacy application (Terminal based DCIS developed in ā€˜Cā€™) was in place, and most of the data pertaining to the new requirements was available it was necessary to ensure that the data be ported from legacy system to the new system. Separate application for seamless migration was also developed and made available as a part of the Case Information system (CIS).

Local Language Support:

Application provides local language support through use of UNICODE. Search on Unicode based text is also available.

Most Economic Model:

            The application is completely on Open Source Platform. Currently 1 Server and 63 Clients are in place. Every Court Room is provided with 1 Client and 1 Printer. Clients are also provided on Filing Counter and various sections. Touch Screen Kiosk is provided for public dissemination of information. 

Sustainability of the Project:

The application has been developed for the district court which would  be managed entirely by the internal staff of the courts. NIC is providing all technical support to ensure smooth functioning over time.

Replication in Other Courts: 

            The Case Information System is accepted by Maharashtra Judiciary.Implementation of CIS is successfully completed at all the 365 locations of Maharashtra.  Use of Open Source Technology have saved huge amount (around 17.5 Crores) to the exchequer.

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