Access to free legal aid is a constitutional right of every citizen of India. However, a vast majority of the people are not able to get justice in time. The government is implementing technological solutions to remove structural and institutional barriers that clog India’s judicial system. A number of initiatives have been taken in the recent years. The focus has been on bridging the gaps in the judicial system through technological solutions.
Backlog of Cases
Justice delivery system in India has been notoriously slow. India has the largest number of pending cases in the world. According to the latest report of National Judicial Data Grid, there are 3.3 crore pending cases in India. Out of which, 57,987 cases are pending in the Supreme Court, 43 lakh in high courts and 2.84 crore in subordinate courts. Over 8 per cent of these cases are pending for more than 10 years, 16 per cent between 5 to 10 years and 53 per cent of the cases filed in India are pending for more than two years.
Drag on Development
An inefficient justice system has a huge negative impact on growth and development. There are around 3.3 crore pending cases in India. Consider an average 10 persons involved in a case. This makes 33 crore people engaged in non-productive work. A large number of undertrials languish in jails across the country as they don’t get bail. Many even spend more than their sentence had they been convicted. All these have huge implications on growth and development of the country.
Department of Legal Affairs, Ministry of Law and Justice, has introduced an innovative web-based application called Legal Information Management & Briefing System (LIMBS). It provides an integrated platform to all departments and ministries of the central government. LIMBS seamlessly integrates all the stakeholders, viz., Ministry users, nodal officers, advocates, Law Ministry officials, arbitrators and claimants to upload the latest information, which is concurrently available on a real-time basis on a single unified platform to avoid confusion, delay and hence reduce the financial burden on the public exchequer.
Ministries and departments are increasingly opting for LIMBS platform. So far, 60 ministries and 208 departments of the Government of India have uploaded over 2.6 lakh court cases on LIMBS. Presence of more than 15,000 advocates enables this application to get the latest information directly from the courtroom. LIMBS provides standard GUI screen to capture basic information of court cases and this also provides an elaborate set of user-friendly reports, which allows higher administration as well as dealing clerk to concurrently monitor the progress of court cases. User driven SMS alerts are instrumental in sensitising the concerned officials to make them proactive. System generated SMS alerts are sent to advocates, users and concerned officers about the forthcoming court cases so that none of the cases go unnoticed.
LIMBS is an important initiative to achieve the objective of Digital India. It integrates several value added facilities like e-document vault is used to upload / store documents, which can act as institutional memories. Unique Digital Locker (UDL) allows to upload documents / information related with individual court case with an aim to collect information at one place, which is otherwise scattered and requires a lot of resources to collect the same. Advocate module extends the LIMBS application to courtroom by allowing active involvement of advocates who can upload latest information related to court cases from their working place. Further, LIMBS fulfills the long pending demand of advocate to activate online fee module facilities. e-Knowledge initiative through Ask Expert promotes a digital cadre of legal and technical experts to provide ready solution. LIMBS also provides complete solution to arbitration cases right from registration of claimants, online uploading of claims, internal processing at ministry level, nomination of arbitrators and capturing information about daily proceedings etc. Law Ministry, Cabinet Secretariat, Niti Aayog, PMO can access court cases details on LIMBS in order to bring efficiency in court cases process. Central Agency Section (CAS) marks cases as important cases filed in the Supreme Court. Various Law Institutes such as Indian Law Institute can access information available on LIMBS platform for study and research purpose.
Judicial system of India has been under stress due to various reasons, viz., bottleneck in infrastructure, lack of manpower, delay in adjudication process and other qualitative shortcomings. Technological interventions such as LIMBS act as a catalyst to bring perceptible improvement in monitoring of court cases from the perspective of ministries and provide a complete and holistic solution to the problems related with the Indian judicial system. An efficient and transparent judicial system will certainly help boost investments.