Government to Focus on Digitization in Enforcing Contracts – Secretary, Department of Justice

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New Delhi: “The Government of India has been working proactively to promote sustainable digitization and bring about a transformational change in the realm of Enforcing Contracts by undertaking a plethora of initiatives promoting greater use of technology”, said Mr Barun Mitra, Secretary, Department of Justice, Ministry of Law and Justice at the E- Conference on Enforcing Contracts organised by CII on 16th May, 2020.

Currently, India is ranked poorly at 163rd position in Enforcing Contracts, and average time to resolve a commercial dispute is nearly 4 years.

Mr Mitra mentioned that the focus is on developing a robust digital infrastructure in courts, which will be sustainable in the long run. Throwing light on some recent pioneering initiatives, he mentioned that the Supreme Court has provided legal sanctity to video conferencing, drafted model regulations for video conferencing calls, which have been circulated to High Courts for adoption with customisation.

The Secretary also stated that e-digitisation initiatives are being introduced in areas such as e-filing, e-payments and randomised allocation of cases. The Delhi High court along with the e-Committee of the Supreme Court has developed virtual courts in all metros for petty offences and traffic challans. Further, in order to establish completely paperless courts, an executable blueprint will be provided to the relevant courts via National Informatics Centre (NIC).

In order to improve the legal landscape and dispute resolution for commercial cases, the need of the hour is to adopt a collaborative approach involving government authorities, judiciary, legal fraternity and industry, Mr Mitra added.

Mr S S Rathi, Member (Processes), e-Committee of the Supreme Court of India, dwelled upon the need to focus on quality of justice, developing judicial capacity and expediting resolution of pending cases. Landmark initiatives are being undertaken by the government, such as the creation of National Master of Lawyers (serving as a Dashboard of all the cases being filed and their status), greater use of Artificial Intelligence and cloud computing in judicial processes and providing handholding through e-seva kendras available at all High Courts to ensure that everyone has access to justice.

He stressed on developing a robust arbitration mechanism in India to deal with the commercial cases in a more streamlined manner and establish India as a commercial hub for arbitration.

Mr G R Raghavender, Joint Secretary, Department of Justice, in his presentation stressed on the need for enhancing the efficiency of Indian Court system at par with the international best practices by reducing the cost and time involved in the resolution of commercial cases. He mentioned that for the industry, an eCourt Services Mobile App has been launched which facilitates search caveat, getting notifications, access to judgement copies and information regarding hearing of cases.

Mr Piruz Khambatta, Chairman, CII Task Force on Ease of Doing Business, in his opening remarks commended the government authorities for undertaking a plethora of ease of doing business reforms, with a special focus on dispute resolution initiatives such as launch of the e-filing module, e- seva kendras, e-payments, video conferencing facilities and expansion of National Judicial Data Grid. He stressed on the need for continuation of reforms in areas such as establishment of more digital courts and reducing litigation by greater reliance on Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Mechanism.