Punjab & Haryana HC spends Rs 21 lakh on US software for dictating orders, programme unused

Total cost of the Dragon Software is Rs. 39,000 per user and the high court has purchased 55 users costing a total of Rs. 21.45 lakh.

Written by Swati Mahajan | Chandigarh | Published:August 14, 2016 2:32 am

Although the Punjab and Haryana High Court has spent a hefty amount of Rs. 21.45 lakh on installing the “Dragon Software” which types judgments on dictation but the software is not much in use as of now owing to the US-accent required for the software.

The software was purchased in August last year to cope up with the problem of acute shortage of judgment writers and stenos across district courts in Punjab and Haryana. However, as it was a software purchased from a US-based company it responds to US-accent and is not much in use.

Total cost of the Dragon Software is Rs. 39,000 per user and the high court has purchased 55 users costing a total of Rs. 21.45 lakh, as per the information provided under the RTI Act.

Highly placed sources in the district courts confirmed that they were not using the software as they face a problem with the “accent” of the software. Sharing views on it, a retired judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Mehtab Singh Gill, asserted, “I don’t think that the software will work for courts in Punjab and Haryana as the court language in the two states is Punjabi and Hindi, respectively, and the judicial officers won’t be able to cope up with the standards of English required for the software.”

Confirming the same, the chairman of the Bar Council of Punjab and Haryana, Rajat Gautam, said, “There is a shortage of stenos and judgment writers across the courts in the two states. As the Dragon software is concerned, which types judgments on dictation, there is a battery of lawyers who have installed it. The trend is not there in courts but it will be in use soon.”

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A retired high court judge, while seeking anonymity said, “I retired in 2013 and at that time the software had been recently installed. However, there was a problem with the accent and the software was unable to comprehend the Indian accent. There were plans to modify the software and the high court is trying to introduce it after modification, I suppose. The software whenever will be fully functional will be very useful as there is shortage of judgment writers and stenos.”

He further added that the software will also help in keeping secrecy of the judgments. “When a judicial officer dictates judgment, the court staff might leak the orders before they are pronounced. If the judicial officer dictates it to the software, the orders are much more confidential,” he said.

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