Beginning April 1,pen drives and compact discs (CDs) would replace bulky files that lawyers carry to the Punjab and Haryana High Court. In a hi-tech and green move,the HC will start the system of e-filing with an aim to put the justice delivery system on fast track and end the morass of paperwork. It will be the first high court in the country to launch the system.
Soon,the litigants and lawyers will be able to file their petitions electronically sitting at home on the official website of the high court ( http://www.highcourtchd.gov.in).
The petitions will be submitted in the PDF (protected) format and will have to bear a digital signature of the lawyer or the litigant. Once the petition is submitted,the website will generate and send electronically a receipt number to the litigant. Also,the petitioner will be informed the date and the Bench before whom the case will be listed for hearing.
Judges will get to browse through the file in the court rooms on special screens installed on their desks while the lawyers and the litigants can use their laptops,tablets or other electronic gadgets to present their case.
Officials of a company recently gave a demo of the screen,for the judges. The screen will maintain a list of all the cases listed for hearing in a day before a Bench.
Easy,effortless access to cases and instant receipt of court orders forms the pivot of this project initiated by the Computer Committee of the High Court.
The committee comprises Justices Hemant Gupta,K Kannan and Rajesh Bindal.
For the time being,to check how the project works,lawyers and litigants will also have to submit hard copies along with soft copies of their petitions.The paperwork will be done away with completely after the special equipment is purchased.
From Monday onwards,runaway couples,seeking court orders for immediate police protection will not have to wait for days to receive the orders.
For,under the new system,they can simply submit their petition through a CD,pen drive or floppy to the High Courts filing branch,which will within minutes,list their case for hearing the next day. Once the case is heard and decided,the court orders,which at present take days and sometimes weeks,will be made available to the couples apprehending threat to their lives within few minutes.
This has been made possible by introducing an intra-net system whereby all concerned branches of the High Court are supplied the soft copy of a petition. At present,it often takes days for the files to reach the concerned branch. Unless the branch,issuing a copy of the order,receives the original file,it is unable to cross check the particulars of the case. This hurdle has been removed.
Other than cases of runaway couples,company and tax matters have also been allowed to be e-filed. This facility will,in few days,be extended to all categories of cases in the High Court. In fact,soft copies of few petitions have already been submitted,accepted and listed for hearing.
The e-filing facility,which was to be started a fortnight back,hit the roadblock of obtaining digital signatures. Both the Bench and the Bar pitched in with efforts to encourage the lawyers to obtain digital signatures without which a petition will not be electronically accepted by the court. However,this hurdle has also been crossed. More than 700 lawyers have purchased the digital signature,which has been made available for Rs 350 for two years, Advocate Sapan Dhir,vice-president of High Court Bar Association told The Indian Express.