It may have been long in coming, but the Delhi High Court is finally shifting millions of pages in case records to the electronic format.
Faced with shrinking storage space and increasing number of cases, the Delhi High Court began the exercise in September and has since digitised 398,373 judicial files with over 35 million pages. The Supreme Court had digitised all its old records several years ago.
According to its 2007-08 annual report, the high court has on its hands 332,141 cases.
"After digitisation of the old case records, we are planning to send the (paper) files to Karkardooma court and to the Saket court complex under construction, so that we are free from handling them," said a judicial officer of the high court who is handling the project.
The digitisation process will help everyone track cases while saving storage space. All documents will be made available through an intranet.
The other advantage is that with a digital signature, certified copies of judgements and orders can be issued within 24 hours after they are signed by the judges.
While releasing the annual report, Delhi High Court Chief Justice Ajit Prakash Shah said: "We have been able to reduce the number of arrears from 79,818 in 2007 to 74,599 in 2008. This took place despite the fact that the court did not function at its full sanctioned strength of 48 but worked with a deficient strength of 32."
The average cost of listing each case before a judge worked out to Rs 1,297 and the average court expenditure per minute was Rs 6,327.
India has a staggering 20 million cases pending in courts around the country.