Thousands of paper bundles stacked up alongside the corridors are a common sight in the Madras High Court — but they might soon be a thing of the past.

With the High Court administration getting ready to introduce electronic filing, wear and tear of filed petitions and documents will no longer be a cause for concern.

In 2012, as many as 2,72,832 civil and criminal cases were instituted in the High Court. That translated to an average of about 1,000 cases filed every working day.

The present filing system is very elaborate. While instituting a case, a number of copies for respondents have to be kept in advance, that is, even before the case is admitted. Lawyers say the documentation goes waste if the case is not entertained. The High Court administration also maintains record rooms in which heaps of documents are stored.

If e-filing is introduced, lawyers can file their plaints and petitions in digital form. “E-filing will help us to an enormous extent. Once the documents are filed electronically, respondents can download the matter without expecting the other side to supply copies. In future, notices may be served through e-mail too. In that process, the use of paper will be substantially reduced,” says senior advocate T.R. Rajagopalan.

The Supreme Court and Delhi High Court already have e-filing facilities in place.

E-connectivity for subordinate courts

Along with the e-filing system, the 151-year-old chartered High Court in the city also plans to implement e-connectivity for all its subordinate courts under the Union government’s E-Courts mission to reduce pendency, provide transparency of information to litigants and monitor them. Already, 900-odd subordinate courts in the State have been connected for rendering speedy justice to the litigants.

Initially, under the E-Courts mission launched in 2007, 799 subordinate courts situated in 238 sites across the State were targeted. Preparatory work including the setting up of a judicial service information centre, enclosed server rooms, local area network (LAN) installation, hardware installation, and software roll-out were taken up there. Much of the work has been completed, and 121 courts constituted later, were also covered with the State government’s assistance.

A top source in the Madras High Court said, “Data entry work such as uploading details of the pending cases was completed in courts across the State. All these courts have been connected to the National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG).” One can easily find out the case number, serial number, prayer, and under what provision of law the case was filed and its status. Out of 33 districts, the daily cause-lists of courts in 32 districts are being regularly uploaded.

Mr. Rajagopalan says by connecting all these courts, the happenings in a subordinate court can be made known to the appellate courts. “This is ideal for disposal,” he says.\

Paperless court prospect welcomed

High Court sources said the concept of a paperless court could be implemented soon, if lawyers extended their cooperation.

“We are working on issuing bail orders through e-mail straight to the prison authorities in order to eliminate delay in communicating the orders,” added the sources.

Welcoming the new initiatives in the judiciary, former attorney general K. Parasaran said, “Things are always changing. With the passage of time, we have to accept new developments and modern technology. It will take some time to accept it. If such technology had been available in our period, we would have made use of it.”

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