Treading in the Right Direction – e-Courts Mission Mode Project : Krishnan Dharmarajan, Principal Consultant, Programme Management Unit, National e-Governance Plan, Department of Information Technology

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“One of the important things associated with the implementation of e-Courts project is that it is led by the people who are part of the entire judicial administration like Justice Bharukha and his team, who have designed and conceptualised the entire system of the e-Courts for active, effective and efficient functioning of the judicial administration in the country,”  says Krishnan Dharmarajan, Principal Consultant, Programme Management Unit, National e-Governance Plan, Department of Information Technology, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, Government of India, in conversation with the egov magazine

e-Courts is an important integrated mission mode project under NeGP. What is the vision and implementation strategy of this project?

The vision of the e-Courts is aligned with the vision of overall NeGP (National e-Governance programme), of delivering services to the citizens. As judiciary is an important arm of the government institution, e-Court is a very important mission mode project (MMP) for making the services of the courts accessible to all citizens. A key aspect emphasised under the NeGP, is the necessity of projects being owned by the implementing Department and not being driven from outside. While outside experts could lend their expertise, the leadership for implementation should come within. One positive point with regard to e-Courts project is that it is led by people who have extensive experience in the judiciary. The current version of the e-Courts implementation began with a financial proposal covering equipment procurement for the court complexes. However, we understand that they now are in the process of detailing the entire project in a comprehensive manner. The NeGP requires Mission Mode Projects to list out services proposed to be delivered under the project along with associated service levels through a process involving stakeholder consultations. It further requires Departments to formulate detailed implementation plans for each Mission Mode Project listing the milestones and timelines, right from initiation of the project to its completion.  Project implementation plans are also expected to include a monitoring and evaluation framework to assist monitoring of milestones and timelines and evaluating progress.  It is expected that an experienced project management team led by e-Committee would steer the mission mode project of e-Courts in line with the over all framework set out under the NeGP.

For availing the technology to bring about speedy and efficient judiciary system, the resources required as specified by justice Bharuka are domain expert, technology experts, sufficient funds and strong institutional commitment. How are these being ensured from the Ministry level?

The Department of Information Technology (DIT) initially provided support to the e-Courts project in framing the project plan, detailing the overall specifications, etc. This support extended by DIT was for a limited duration and it was expected that a more formal Project Management Unit (PMU) would be established to assist implementation of the e-Courts project.

For large projects like e-Courts, it would be desirable if a PMU is set up centrally comprising experts from the domain (in this case the judiciary) along with technology experts and professionals in the areas of process reengineering, change management and project management.

Considering the fact that the implementation will need to take place at the State level, it would also be desirable to have Project e-Mission Teams (PeMTs) established in each State for implementation of the e-Courts project under the overall guidance and in coordination with the central PMU.

What are the monitoring mechanism adopted by Department of IT (DIT)?

Under the NeGP, the Apex committee headed by Cabinet Secretary has been given the responsibility of monitoring implementation of all Mission Mode Projects.  DIT, assisted by a PMU established for this purpose, plays the role of a secretariat to the Apex Committee in connection with its role in monitoring of NeGP.

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