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Speedy justice through e-Governance

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V L Achaliya“Independence of judiciary is a basic feature of our constitution. For smooth, efficient and effective functioning of justice delivery system, it is imperative to have a conducive infrastructure and suitable work environment,” says V L Achaliya, Principal Secretary, Law and Judiciary, Government of Maharashtra

Tell us about the e-Governance solutions that have been launched in your department.
In my opinion, e-Governance in Maharashtra is much more developed than any other state in the country. That is my view. During the last 7-8 years a significant part of the government work has been computerized. Currently we are in the process of introducing a system that will enable citizens to come at the filing counter with a pen drive or CD and lodge a writ petition. Even if the citizen is filing through paper, we have a system for digitizing the information and ensuring that it gets circulated quickly. We have the system of electronic staplers, which can automatically staple electronic pages and separate them as per the requirements. I would say that the entire credit for the successful execution of this project goes to the IT Department, which has been very proactive in implementation.

Can you shed more light on the e-Governance system that you have implemented?
The main idea behind the system is to make it possible for the other side to respond in an easy manner when the court issues a notice. The response can be filed through e-file in a CD. The thing is that the world is moving at a very fast
pace, every organisation is keen to adopt a paperless method of working, as it not only saves time, it also leads to considerable savings in terms of costs. The paperless system in our department makes the task of lawyers simpler. They can access every kind of their data in e-form after the implementation the centralised scheme. The record of all cases at High Court is being digitised. Suppose a person filed writ petition and wanted to see the other side of the reply then that is also available on the internet. The high court judgment can also be found on the internet. All the judgements given by the hon’ble judges are uploaded to the server and converted into PDF, which is available .in public domain.

Are you seeing some kind of efficiency in the disposal of cases ever since the new system came into place?
IThe current system reduces human interference and leads to more transparency. On many occasions we have a situation where one person may want the case to be listed and the other person may not want it to be listed. As the current system does not have a human interface in it, it ensures that there is impartiality in the listing of cases. Illegal activity is minimised through this system. We have changed several rules and regulations regarding the court fee and now even the e-payment is accepted which was launched a year back. The NIC has a tie up with the registrar of IGR office.

The e-payment system has been recently launched. Are you facing any challenges in it?
Acceptability is a problem. Sometimes people don’t have bank accounts. There are also issues related to training of the staff. The people need to have confidence in the e-systems. But over a period of time these issues will get resolved and people will develop better comfort levels with technology.

Technology is changing very fast. What kind of technological changes do you see happening in your department in times to come?
We are working with a vision of having every employee in the department trained in latest technologies. They will be provided digital signatures, and scanners. For the actual implementation the overall mindset has to change. Unless people are forced to accept the new technologies things are not going to change. The process has already started, and the entire credit for that goes to the IT department. The pilot project for digitisation of data has already started. We have replaced the older laptops of the judicial officers with new ones. We have a video conferencing facility, which enables officers to have an interaction or key discussions from their districts.

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