Transformation of Indian Courts: Chief Justice DY Chandrachud Highlights The Transformation of Indian Courts Into Arenas of Democracy at J20 Summit in Brazil.

(Judicial Quest News Newtowrk)

March, 15, 2024 Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, delivering his speech on Tuesday at the J20 Summit in Brazil, emphasized the transformation of Indian Courts. He remarked that these judicial institutions have transcended mere physical structures, evolving into democratic arenas where discourse flourishes, departing from their erstwhile image as imposing empires.

Our courts have come to be reimagined not as imposing ‘empires’, but as democratic spaces of discourse. COVID-19 pushed the frontiers of our court systems- which were compelled to change overnight. Courts became more than just opaque physical spaces.

Courts became more than just opaque physical spaces,” said the CJI.

CJI also satated that judge’s can never be seen as princes of sovereigns who are beyond accountability but are service providers to people.

As judges, we are neither princes nor sovereigns who are above the explainability requirement ourselves. We are service providers, and enablers of rights-affirming societies. The decision itself and the road leading up to it must be transparent, understandable to everyone with or without a legal education and must be broad enough for everyone to walk alongside.”

J20 is a summit of heads of Supreme Courts and Constitutional courts of all the G20 members.The J20 summit is being organised by the Brazilian federal Supreme Court in light of Brazil’s Presidencey of G20 2024.

The event has seen discussions on critical topics including social justice, environmental sustainability and the integration of the technology for improved judicial efficiency.

CJI spoke on the topic ‘Digital Transformation and use of technology to enhance judicial effeciency’.

In addressing judicial efficiency, the Chief Justice underscored the imperative of broadening our perspective beyond the individual efficiency of judges to encompass the efficacy of the entire judicial process.

When we speak of judicial efficiency, we must look beyond the efficiency of the judge and think of a holistic judicial process. Efficiency lies not only in outcomes but in these processes- which must ensure free and fair hearing.

Substantive opportunity depends on “conversion factors” as Dr Amartya Sen says, “the degree to which a person can transform a resource into a functioning”. The potential of technology lies in how we convert it to minimise pre-existing inequalities.

The Chief Justice of India further emphasized the imperative of imbuing the judiciary with a sense of accountability to the populace, particularly in matters concerning transparency within the decision-making framework.

Regarding the technological advancements achieved by the Supreme Court of India, the Chief Justice highlighted that individuals with physical impairments, pregnant women, and elderly citizens now have the option to virtually access courtrooms, thereby enhancing accessibility and inclusivity within the judicial system.

It is further mentioned that 7, 50,000 cases have been heard over video conference.The proceedings of important conastitutional cases in the Supreme Court are live-streamed on its you tube channel bringing constitutional deliberations to the homes and hearts of all citizens said that CJI.

Even after the pandemic, hybrid hearings continue to be a feature of our courts. Virtual hearings have democratised access to the Supreme Court. It has opened the space for people who could not appear before the Court without great difficulty. Persons with physical impairments, pregnant women, persons in their advanced years can now choose to opt to Over 750,000 cases have been heard over video conferencing. The proceedings of important constitutional cases in the Supreme Court are live-streamed on its YouTube channel – bringing constitutional deliberations to the homes and hearts of all citizens. The Supreme Court of India today is almost entirely paperless, with digitised and optical character recognition (OCR) – enabled paper-books.

He emphasized that the Supreme Court of India has made significant strides towards digitalization, nearly eliminating paper usage by adopting digitized and optical character recognition (OCR)-enabled paper-books. Efforts are underway to minimize the necessity for litigants to physically appear in court for the resolution of their disputes, marking a pivotal shift towards greater efficiency and accessibility within the judicial process.

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Highlighting India’s judicial system, the CJI mentioned that the Indian Supreme Court’s Case management System in built on free and open Source Software (FOSS), making it the largest such system globally.He explained  that FOSS not only reduces costs significantly but also enhabnces transparency, bridging communication gaps.

The Chief Justice of India expounded upon the functionalities of the system, illustrating how litigants are empowered to monitor their cases on a daily basis. Through automated e-mails, they receive comprehensive updates encompassing case particulars, hearing schedules, judgments, and orders. Furthermore, offline e-kiosks serve as invaluable tools, aiding litigants in navigating the legal framework and accessing pertinent details regarding the status of their cases.

CJI also spoke about the new SUVAS System. We are using SUVAS (Supreme Court Vidhik Anuvaad Software)- a machine learning, AI-enabled translation tool for our judgments of 16 regional languages. Over 36,000 cases have thus far been translated. There is also live streaming and YouTube recordings of important constitutional cases that provide the complete context. Easy access to the judgments of the Supreme Court is provided for through Digital SCR (Supreme Court Records), where over 30,000 old judgements are available for free.

CJI Chandrachud additionally brought to attention the burgeoning concerns surrounding emerging technologies, such as AI profiling, algorithmic bias, misinformation dissemination, and the opacity inherent in AI models. He underscored the imperative for continuous dialogue and concerted efforts aimed at grappling with the multifaceted complexities inherent in these domains.

Digital divide, representational asymmetry between parties to the same dispute, and low-connectivity locations are some of the other bottlenecks that we must tackle. When we speak of judicial efficiency, we must look beyond the efficiency of the judge and think of a live-streaming.

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