Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A NEW CHAPTER IN JUDICIARY AND INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

(Text of speech delivered by justice Yatindra Singh on 9.7.2007 on the occasion of inauguration of the Allahabad High Court Website and launching of E-court project)


Today—for many reasons—is a happy day for us. The Allahabad High Court website is being inaugurated and e-court project is being launched by symbolic distribution of laptops to the Judges of the subordinate judiciary. The decision to distribute laptops is a good decision not only for the judiciary but also for the future of the information technology.

ALLAHABAD HIGH COURT WEBSITE
Our website had been functional for sometime though it is being inaugurated today. It has normal features like any other court's website: cause list, information about the court, judgements etc. However it has many features that are unique and are provided for the first time on any court's website.

Web Server and Mail Server
We have our own web server and mail server; it is situate in the court building; we maintain it. No other Court in India has this distinction.

Feed Technology
There are many ways to find out new information on a website:
  • The traditional way is to go on the website and find it out;
  • The second method is to get it through an email from the website provided this facility is there;
  • The third and the latest method is to get it through a feed provided the website offers the feed.
Broadly the feed technology enables a website to broadcast, the information regarding new material, on the internet. The feed could either be, RSS (Really simple Syndication) or atom. You require a programme called news aggregator or feed reader to get the new information. If you have this programme installed in your computer then you can get the information of the website without going there. These programmes are included in most of the web browsers and email programmes. In any case, they are freely available. At present, you can configure feed of a website, on most of the mobile phones too.

Our approved for reporting ( AFR) judgements as well as administrative decisions are available on RSS feed; soon they will be available on atom feed too. Administrative decisions include transfers, posting, appointments, notification, circulars, information regarding list, and roster.

Web Diary
It is a diary of our Court: a record of what has happened on that day. The idea is to keep all our administrative orders and reports in the digital form on the date that they are submitted/ approved/ passed. This is more in the light of Right to Information Act — to bring complete transparency. We have started, recording events, keeping judgements, and administrative orders in the digital form however we have yet to approve the idea of keeping all reports and information on the server.

Hindi - Website
English is good but Hindi is better: it is our mother tongue. We understand it better than English. You can also view our website in Hindi.

Devnagri is being standardised in unicode and our website uses unicode Devnagri (Hindi) fonts. You can view our website in any unicode font, anywhere in the world.

List of Advocates
The website contains list of advocates, and their addresses, phone numbers, chamber number, and other details. It also contains the names of the advocates for different corporation to facilitate service of notice.

faq
It explains some of frequently asked general as well as technical and judicial questions.

E-COURT PROJECT—LAPTOPS—OPEN SOURCE
Laptops
E-court project is being implemented in three phases by the e-committee (constituted on 28.12.2004). The first phase is being launched with the distribution of laptops to the judges of the subordinate judiciary. Judicial officers and court staff will be given technical training. Broadband connectivity is also being offered. This will help the Judges to be better informed and work more efficiently; bringing down the mounting arrears.

The Laptops have the following features:
(i) software:
  • OpenOffice.org suite — Apart from other, this suite has a word processor, and presentation programme;
  • Evolution— for sending and receiving email;
  • Firefox— as the web browser.
(ii) Links to the following website:
(iii) Law Commission reports in the pdf format.
(iv) Icons—apart from others—to perform the following tasks
  • Show last back up;
  • Use last data back up;
  • take data back up;
  • take a screen shot.

The decision to provide laptops is important for the judiciary; it also opens a new chapter in the field of information technology.

Information Technology—New Chapter
The last century was dominated by two World Wars and this century—in the era of WTO and TRIPS—might be dominated by the disputes relating to the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). We know about the IPR disputes relating to Basmati rice, Naphal wheat, Neem, and Turmeric (Haldi): we must protect our IPR or atleast ensure that it does not lie in others' hand.

About fifteen thousand laptops are being distributed throughout the country and out of these, seventeen hundred are for our State. These laptops have linux—an open source software—as operating system. It is not that open source does not have IPR problems but they are less than the proprietary software.

The biggest problem with open source software is lack of awareness and help. A decision to supply the laptops on open source software, combined with training and technical help, will ensure penetration of open source in every district, every Tehsil, and every nook and corner of the country. It will lead more awareness, more accessibility, and more reliance on open source.

We lead in the information technology world. Expansion of open source will, not only create more jobs in the service sector (an area where we dominate) but also permit us to maintain our lead in the field of Information Technology. The step opens a new chapter in judiciary: it opens a new horizon; a new vista in information technology.

I congratulate the E-committee for providing laptops, training, and technical help to the Judges of the subordinate judiciary; I also acknowledge their foresight in choosing open source software.

2 comments:

  1. This really is commendable. I am pretty sure IIIT-A and MNNIT can help you further in implementing free/open source in judiciary.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is indeed a great accomplishment. Courts are perhaps the best domain to benefit from IT, and also provide interesting challenges in new developments of software, intelligent data mining, distributed information management, etc. Also, documentation, particularly to safeguard IPR as pointed out by Hon'ble Justice Singh (recalling Huldi, neem, basmati, etc.) is critical and would be aided by IT usage with open-source software support. Kudos to all involved with this project and its successful implementation!!!!

    ReplyDelete

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