It was a normal Tuesday in courtroom no. 24 of the Delhi High Court but for the sleek LCD screen on the judge’s table rather than bulky files.
An interaction touch screen handbook gave company. The LCD displayed the list of cases to be heard on the day and the touch screen had the entire case files.
The High Court launched it first paperless court with Justice S. Ravinder Bhat. The proceedings went off smoothly and, within two hours, 18 cases were heard. Altogether, 33 cases were heard on Day 1.
The touch screen accommodates two pages, which open and can be read side by side. Many lawyers had laptops with them and the records of the cases were digitised.
The cases heard on Tuesday were ones whose records had already been digitised According to court sources, very soon the system will be operational in all courts and litigants can submit their plea in CD or DVDs.
“The necessity of e-courts has risen due to the shortcomings of a paper-based system,” said Justice B.D. Ahmed, the in-charge of the e-court committee.
Emphasising the need for fast disposal of cases, he said e-courts will function in a more organised manner and anyone would be able to access the case files.
Initially, lawyers faced some hiccups in using laptops and adjusting to the system but most of them said it was “a good step”. “It is at a preliminary stage and we are yet to ascertain the difficulties faced by all concerned. For now, e-filings are optional,” said a source. “We will be able to get rid of our bulky files. Now we have to just carry a USB device or the CD of our case,” said Swagat Sharma, a lawyer appearing in the e-court on Tuesday.
Delhi High Court Bar Association (DHCBA) president and additional solicitor general of India A.S. Chandhiok said, “Statistics reveal that a minimum of six hours are spent on transferring each file from the filing department to the judge’s chambers.” “This includes filing, listing, sending files to the judge's home, getting them back and putting them up for hearing. Now it is a matter of minutes.”
The decision to go paperless came after Chief Justice of the HC, A.P. Shah, remarked that storerooms for court records occupy one-third of court space and can be done away with to give way to more courtrooms. Litigants would also be able to easily access e-stamps and online payment of court fee.