Supreme Court’s “Manually Typed Advocate’s Appearance Makes Way for “Appearance Slip” Through Portal!
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BEFORE WE GO INTO “ADVOCATES APPEARANCE PORTAL’ let us look briefly into the RTI portal which SC operationalized recently to help people access information!
A portal for filing RTI applications to help people access information about the Supreme Court was operationalized sometime earlier this year.
CJI who was sharing the bench with Justices Hima Kohli and J B Pardiwala before the hearing of a case said the portal will start functioning soon and wanted to say that the RTI portal is ready. It will start working in 15 minutes.
The bench headed by the CJI had been hearing a plea filed by law students Akriti Agarwal and Lakshya Purohit seeking a mechanism to file RTI applications online in the apex court.
Earlier, the CJI, while hearing the PIL on November 11, had said that the portal was “practically ready” for launch.
The online portal will streamline responses of the Supreme Court under the Right to Information Act.
Earlier, RTI applications with respect to the top court were being filed through post only.
Supreme Court: Paperless Registry
What does the present system do?
Presently, advocates write their names, along with details like the case and its serial number on a prescribed paper form, to mark their presence in a hearing to ensure that their names get reflected in court orders or judgments.
“We are streamlining the process of appearance memos. Exactly, what is uploaded by the lawyers, we will get it. The court masters will not have to type it,” the CJI said at the start of the judicial proceedings on December 16.
Also to add the names of Advocates were to be typed manually in Record of Proceedings under the existing process.
What the new system will do?
Manual filing of advocate appearance slip in the Supreme Court is set to become history as the top court is set to launch a new ‘Advocate Appearance Portal’ on January 1, 2023.
Put in place under the directions of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, the portal has been described as ‘another step to make the registry working paperless’.
Once the portal is launched, the advocates-on-record may submit an appearance slip through the same.
“Advocate Appearance Portal is another step to make the Registry working paperless under the directions of Hon’ble the Chief Justice of India, Dr. Justice Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud… The Appearance Slip will be received online through the Advocate Appearance Portal and at the time of login, verification of the AOR is to be done by software through One Time Password (OTP),” a press release issued by the Court on Friday said.
The press release also said that the new portal would be an environment-friendly step since it is estimated that online submission of appearance slip would save two lakh slips of paper annually.
The portal has been designed and developed to bring speed, accuracy, and efficacy for recording the appearance of lawyers in the record of proceedings, the press release said.
“The existing process for Appearance Slip is cumbersome. The Appearance Slip is received through Advocates directly in the court or through email on the day of the case is listed and verification of the AOR is done manually in the existing process. Besides, names of Sr. Advocates and Advocates are typed manually in Record of Proceedings.
The new online process for appearance slips would be user-friendly.
“Access to the appearance portal will be user specific i.e. The AOR will have access to his/her matter appearing in cause list of particular day and may mention appearances in the matter. The Appearance Slip will be received online through the Advocate Appearance Portal and at the time of login, verification of the AOR is to be done by software through One Time Password (OTP),” the press statement explained.
“This online facility is also an environment-friendly step through which approximately 2,00,000 papers per annum will be saved,” it added.
The CJI has exhorted the AoR to utilize the portal which will be functional with effect from January 1, 2023, the statement said.
Digitalization of Supreme Court & High Court Record – Digitization of records forms a very important part of the ICT development of the Judicial set up. Digitization was proposed to be made a part of the eCourts Phase II and Rs. 752.50 crores were proposed for the same.
What is the issue?
Though technology can be a game changer, concerns remain regarding its efficiency in providing solutions to the problems of the judicial courts.
What are the major problems in the courts?
A massive backlog of cases – According to the National Judicial Data Grid, the pendency of cases rose sharply by 18.2% between 2019-2020 in case of district courts.
Judicial vacancies – More than 4 out of every 10 posts of High Court judges remain vacant as on August 1, 2021.
What are the initiatives toward digitization?
The e-Courts project was conceptualized with a vision to transform the Indian Judiciary by ICT enablement of Courts.
The e-Committee of the Supreme Court of India recently released its draft vision document for Phase III of the e-Courts project.
The Supreme Court has directed all the courts to extensively use video-conferencing for judicial proceedings in the wake of the pandemic.
In May 2020, the Supreme Court introduced a new system of e-filing and artificial intelligence-enabled referencing.
What are the challenges?
Inadequate digital literacy across the country
Inadequate digital penetration
Issues of bandwidth and connectivity, particularly in remote and inaccessible regions
Absence of adequate digital infrastructure
Concerns regarding cybersecurity
Lack of trained manpower to maintain e-courts record
Unfamiliarity to handle cases virtually
How can it be addressed?
Adequate training of manpower including judges
Tailoring systems according to the specifications and contexts required
Upgrading the current infrastructure
Developing a robust security system that provides secured access to case information
Also, the readers of the 7th issue of January 2023 MOJO may know that there is something known as “NALSA” which stands for “The National Legal Services Authority” (NALSA) which has been constituted under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 to provide free Legal Services to the weaker sections of the society and to organize Lok Adalats for amicable settlement of disputes.
Hon’ble Dr. Justice D. Y. Chandrachud, Judge The Chief Justice of India is the Patron-in-Chief. NALSA is housed at the Supreme Court of India, Tilak Marg, New Delhi, Delhi (110001). The NALSA Centre for Citizen Services is set up at Jaisalmer House, Man Singh Road, New Delhi-110011. It is working during office hours on all working days.
In every State, State Legal Services Authority has been constituted to give effect to the policies and directions of the NALSA and to give free legal services to the people and conduct Lok Adalats in the State. The State Legal Services Authority is headed by Hon’ble the Chief Justice of the respective High Court who is the Patron-in-Chief of the State Legal Services Authority. A Senior Most Judge of the High Court is nominated as Executive Chairman, SLSA.
In every District, District Legal Services Authority has been constituted to implement Legal Services Programmes in the District. The District Legal Services Authority is situated in the District Courts Complex in every District and chaired by the District Judge of the respective district. A Civil Judge Cadre Judicial Officer is appointed as Secretary on a full-time basis.
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