Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, Senior Advocate, Ex- Attorney General, Raian Karanjawala, Managing Partner, Karanjawala & Co., and Senior Advocate Vivek Tankha speak to Tarun Nangia on the Legally Speaking program aired on NewsX about a Parliamentary Committee report on e-courts.
T.N: Hello and welcome to Legally Speaking with me Tarun Nangia now we commence part- 2 of our discussion on the standing committee report on the Constitution of E- Courts and the whole E- Courts process that in a sense to cope with the effect of corona I have with me Mr. Mukul Rohatgi, Mr. Vivek Tankha and Mr. Karanjawala I would thank each one of them for sphering time for the part- 2 of a discussion on this very important topic we will start with Mr. Rohatgi and the last episode Mr. Tankha ended his point by making a few points on the whole E- Courts process and how it has simplified things Mr. Rohatgi can take off from there and give his views on the same?
Rohatgi: Look there is no doubt that we are still in the trial stages much has been achieved in the last two or three months but much has to be achieved in terms of the reach of virtual courts by reach I mean filtering down to Lower Courts be available to Lawyers because I have found that lot of District bars and other places if there two three four cities saying that we don’t have a computer we don’t have a Laptop we don’t have an iPad and some of them have a phone which is not a smart phone so you are not able to connect on these platforms so that is a very – very huge drawback because don’t forget you have some three crores cases pending most of them at the lowest run then the higher run and then about one crore in the High Court’s so at least two crore are in the Lower Courts so we have to figure out a way that you know even if the government is able connect the Courts what about the person who is the per air and is the Lawyer how does he connect I mean if he doesn’t have the finds or he is unable to have the phone what will happen to that I think that is a very – very pic talent. There are more than ten or twenty lakhs Lawyers who are practising you know how will they I mean if they don’t connect and the system is connected again you have a last mile connectivity weather the emphasis should not only be jurisdiction of courts money and time but should also look at if you are the part of that system if you are the part of that wheels of Districts so that is one thing I would recommend to Mr. Tankha and the parliamentary committees to look at that because there is no point saying that a Lawyer should go to a particular place from where he is being able to access then he might be to go to the court so that is one very – very why should not I has not in the last three or four months for government or the courts or together not been proactive in harnessing private technology.
We are discussing the on zoom. Zoom is not an Indian product some says it’s a Chinese product why are we on zoom why should have not been on Indian platform by now. So, these two things according to me are important in aggressing the problem of Lawyers in the other cities Mumbai mainly and why not ask private technology to be available because I used to find that there is some kind of a fear in some kind of a resister in the Government. Government must develop all kinds of apps that should not be at least Is the probable future course that we should look at.
T.N: Mr. Rohatgi highlighted a very good issue that Lawyers don’t have access to things like even Laptops in addition to that to this you recently had an initiative where you distributed the Laptops in rural area of Madhya Pradesh at Bar Council and other places is that true because I heard about that sometime back?
Tankha: I distributed Laptops and tablets to students of 10th class and 12th class in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh who had come first in the order of or the first ten.
T.N: This was not for Lawyers?
Tankha: This was for brilliant young students and their most they all were toppers in MP and Chhattisgarh board they are from poor families not very rich family mostly in rural areas because the richer one goes to the ICSE board or the CBSE board and the masses goes to the local boards the State boards so these are brilliant student of state boards who topped I mean It was for them.
T.N: Mr. Karanjawala some people got interventions but how would you react on on the access of technology to Lawyers on a larger scale in the justice system? Can you justify proper offices? How will things function how will E- Courts function otherwise?
Karanjawala: So the let’s put it this way I first of all as I said earlier and I fully agree with Mukul that we are a country which is fortunately very rich in technological abilities where a country which has large firms which can handle or at least help to handle the problems of the hardware and the connectivity in as far as the Courts are concerned and also the connectivity in as far as the Lawyers are concerned so we should harness it to its full ability and we should find ways and means in which the courts get access to these companies that are cheaper more effective better range as far as giving access to Lawyers are concerned to some extent the individual Lawyer who cannot afford it we’ll just have to sort off move serve take it up as one of his over heads and deal with it because I mean frankly not to be able to afford as a young Lawyer or as a Lawyer is I mean then you are in any case in a pity difficult situation it will just have to be in the years to come part of your normal wherewith all equipment which you need no doubt connectivity should be there across India so that anyone one’s equipped with the basic hardware can connect you know and of course there can be various schemes worked out where the Bar Council and all help younger Lawyers things like that and all these things can be worked out there is no doubt where there is a problem and it have to be dealt with and have to be faced but as many people as can have access to technology should get access to technology the question why should you not invest in what is one of your most important constituency which is the System which gives justice is a third arm of the State I mean why would you not why would you not go ahead and ensure that I mean twenty thousand crore in the context of the general budget for the courts I mean it is nothing in comparison to how much is spent on so many other things I mean you have an annual defence budget which is of several times more and this is of one time investment made over year why should it not be done certainly this is something and the court themselves can find ways and means in which to as I suggested earlier you may have people who file who take the e- commerce rout paying slightly higher court fees to compensate the thing as I had but why should that kind of money not be spent.
T.N: Mr. Tankha, your report specifically: You required hundreds of crores if you want to have an all modern I mean basically if I read the report but you are basically suggesting like the IT company complexes that we see in Gurgaon you want courts like that now. Do you think and because you are in the Parliament would you tell us we have that kind of money or where will that money come from in your view?
Tankha : Tarun let me share with you not only my experience as a parliamentarian but also my experience as an Advocate General where I used to see budgets and now I realise that the lowest budgets that are given is to the judiciary In fact judiciary is one of the most poorly budgeted institution in India I recollect that when we are wanting to modernise the Judiciary in Madhya Pradesh and Sam Pitroda had prepared a report called votes of tomorrow this is 2010 2012 we requested the Chief Minister to give a Pilate project to the National Law University, Delhi believe me even that money has not been paid to National Law University so it’s pathetic it is further exceptive I find judiciary is the lowest priority if the judges has not pass orders in the judge’s orders for enhancement of scale of subordinate judiciary I can tell you this would have never happened so we as Lawyers as Law Officers have a duty towards the Institutions this institution is the place which is keeping our democracy going it’s the only institution in which people have full faith so if you spend money to modernize this institution you are doing it for the country’s larger Interest this is how I look at it.
Karanjawala: I totally agree with Vivek today in a country as large as India in a seven trillion dollar economy which India is if money can be found to build a central bistar in a large amount and a large amount of money is found for that there is absolutely no reason why money cannot be found to spend on the courts and I feel that this is the matter which its required the Chief Justice of India along with his brother judges to sought of appoint a committees to go into these things gave suggestions and start the process and start the ball rolling.
Rohatgi: I wanted to make a comment that something which is kind of not looked at with some importance and that is this you see if the idea is to have a virtual court a virtual court means that there is no physical court there is no court in the sense of a physical building spread all over the country District, High Court so know what is happening is that the judge may be sitting at home and find the Lawyer is at home but papers are still filled in the physical form in a court how? The registry of the court is now in these courts to the Lower Courts I mean paper are stuff there are one lakh paging are in different courts they are kept in very poor conditioning you how things are so unless you look at these thing you can’t have the achievement with the virtual court as for handling paper for example I can tell you that in the western world you know for example you want to register purchase or sale of a property In India there is registrar’s office take millions of documents with us in the western world at least no physical registry there is no Physical it’s all on the virtual you don’t have to look at that that you know by which but we are still having the process hybrid system is also not and a placeless what the report says is the place or a service now the report start is should be paperless placeless and seamless that the way should go.
T.N: Okay, those are two three important interventions.
Karanjawala : one important point to take further what Mukul said when he said when you are dealing with a you see the advantages also of a virtual court is that the space that you need for a court room is much less than what you need for a normal court room because this is not a court which is going to be filled with people so in a normal building you could probably have thirty forty fifty courtrooms while the same building would house in physical terms only four or five so today if you do have a virtual court what you have to spend on the technological architecture you would very much save on the building and the space and the other infrastructure around it because you just don’t need a court in which a court room is full you already have this these virtual court rooms would be in addition suddenly you could find that the High Courts could be mined by so many more people because you don’t have to wait for the High Court addition infrastructure to be built for you to have more judges you can straight away have more judges how smaller than in a much smaller place have many more cases heard so as things go along you will just have to sought of zig zag your way towards a more and more efficient system of dispensation of justice and certainly I feel that money should not be as far as the courts are concerned a constraint in dispensing. Tarun before you end I am going to be in fact make a suggestion for you to make a proactive role why don’t you just enervate here and now a date six months from know where all four of us meet again on this very topic and discuss exactly how much progress has made let your show be the part of the monitoring process Take out a date fix it know we will all be available six months or now we will meet and we can then access how much progress has been made in six months towards this transformation that we are all taking about I feel that these tribunals are very easily suitable to the video conferencing facilities and the video conferencing way of arguing matters may be there can be one modification we can start with one Tribunal immediately full time two months later see LSS how well that is going and weather it’s really an experiment that is working out and then slowly I have the other Tribunals to the same frame.
T.N: I would like to thank Mr. Karanjawala, Mr. Tankha, Mr. Rohatgi for sparing the time today.
(transcribed by Pranshi Agarwal)