Technology: A Pathway for Speedy Justice

Sumit Ray

Abstract

Technology, the term which has not only enhanced the life of human being, but has revolutionized the legal aspect and justice delivery mechanism. Nobody could have imagined the use of technology for the administration and delivery of justice before the 21st century. Technology is gaining its strength in law aspect in this era of criminality. Technology such as In-car technology, rapid identification, and use of ICT is upgrading the efficiency of the court of law and better delivery of justice. All these technologies are improving the surveillance and making examination procedures easier. All these technologies improve surveillance and investigation while making analysis procedures easier. These are the perks provided by technology by virtue of which it is being adopted around the globe for the justice mechanism and has become an integral part of the court of law. The use of technology has resulted in a decline in the offenses and helps the authority in the faster collection of evidences for the speedy trial. In a contemporary world, the absence of technology will result in a delay in justice process or even the offender may be left unpunished. Thus, the constitutionality of the country and access of justice to citizen will go in vain if the technology no longer exists.

Introduction

We all live in an era where technology has gained the status of an essential item in the life of a citizen. The sphere of technology has not left the atmosphere of justice untouched. Technology has constantly been able to influence the lifestyle of citizens and fulfil their political and social desires. In recent years, it has been seen how technology is bending its arm towards the justice and judiciary area for its advancement and effectiveness. Innovative technologies are being developed for enhancing the efficiency, effectiveness, and administration of the judiciary. The phrase “technology” had no existence in the matter related to justice during the World War phase. The history of technology in the matter of judiciary can be traced throughout the world during 1980-2000s. The advanced countries such as US and England started adopting the use of technology in the judiciary. In 1998, Legal Services Corporation of America conducted the first summit on the use of technology to improve access to justice. This pioneer act initiated the trend of adopting technology for judicial process throughout America and the establishment of LSC’s Technology Initiative Grant program in 2000.[1]

Computerization of courts was initiated during the latter part of the 1980s in association with the NIC but was not much focused upon. During the last two decades, the Supreme Court of India, High Courts and District Courts have started adopting technology for the determination of justice. The establishment of e-court and application of electronic means for recording evidence highlighted the initialization of technology for the justice in India. The Indian Judiciary was shifting towards the adoption of new technologies for the better accessibility and delivery of justice to its citizens. In upcoming years, technology would be covering each and every facet of judiciary institutions. Here are some of the roles played by the technology in enhancing the justice process:

  • Use of ICT (Information and Computer technology) in court

The government started adopting technology for the improvement of performance of courts and better management of records and databases. GOI launched its “ICT Enablement for Indian Judiciary” programme on 5th October 2005 on the basis of the recommendation of e-committee of the Supreme Court of India which submitted its report titled ‘National Policy and Action Plan’ for the implementation of information and communication technology in the Indian judiciary.[2] The government approved the computerization of 14,249 district and subordinate courts under the project by March 2014 with a total budget of Rs. 935 crore. These established courts are also known as E-courts. These computerized courts help in the better collection of data and filing of the cases online by the use of interest by the person seeking justice. These systems help in reducing the court’s burden and ensuring better services to the peoples by keeping them updates about the status of case proceedings. E-filing and E-pay helps the citizen to file and pay the court fee easily at their own convenience. Case information can be easily circuited to another location through secure transmission and shall be able to address the delay of the case. After the successful operation of Phase I (E-court project), the cabinet has approved the e-courts Mission mode project for Rs. 1670 crores.[3] Thus, the primary benefit of the establishment of E-court helps in serving justice in an efficient, affordable and transparent way to the citizen.

  • For Vigilance services
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In today’s world, technology is being used by the police authorities and law enforcement agencies for the detection and analysis of crimes. Technology is acting as the eyes of justice over the activities of the offender and helps in preventing the happening of notorious acts. Technology is utilized for the detection and tracking down of the offender and also for the collection of primary evidence. Certain technologies and gadgets that are aiding law agencies are:

  • Surveillance Camera

Surveillance camera helps in keeping vigilance over the people and helps in tracking down the offenders as the evidence becomes primary and direct. Surveillance cameras are being installed almost at every street, mall, metros for the purpose of reduction in crimes and fast track-down of the offender. These cameras capture the events and disclose the complete story to law enforcement agencies.

  • License scanning technology

License scanning technology automatically scans the number plates of vehicles and collects the complete information regarding the vehicle. This technology helps in tracking down the high-speed racers and imposing a penalty. In advanced countries, these scanning technologies helps the police in recovering the stolen cars and track the positioning of the cars with which the crimes were committed.

  • Gunshot Technology

These systems are mostly deployed in the United States of America for the detection of crime places. Gunshot technology is a system that detects and conveys the fire of gunshots and weapons by the use of acoustic, optics and other kinds of sensors. This technology seems to be much effective for the detection of crime and better estimation of offender activities.

  • GPS Technology

GPS technology is proved to be an important device for searching criminals and offenders. The police would be busy searching for the criminal without GPS technology and that will result in delay in justice. How could a criminal be given punishments unless he is caught? GPS technology is used by the Secret Institutions, Police and law enforcement agencies to trace the criminals as fast as possible in order to solve the case. GPS technology also helps in prevention and detention of terrorists’ activities happening in the country. GPS technology is accelerating the justice process in criminal suits.

  • Courtroom Technology

Courtroom technology means the court is equipped with highly sophisticated technology and gadgets such as audio reinforcement, online database records, evidence presentation along with the use of audio and video technology for remote appearances. Courtroom technology is found in advanced countries like the US. Courtroom technology would surely flourish throughout the world as the times change because of merits in the field of court practices. Firstly, courtroom technology helps in connecting the people, witnesses, and people with disabilities via live video-conferencing. It reduces the travel cost, time and speedy justice to the person seeking it. Secondly, technology also helps in maintaining the norms of the constitution by providing justice to the arrested person. Technology can be used for connecting the offenders with their families and friends. It helps in viewing the condition of the prisoner and helps in preventing the custodial violence happening with the prisoner at the hands of the guards behind the four walls. Thirdly, the judges and magistrates can contact the arrested person and decide their extension of imprisonment. This will decrease the burden and cost of state in bringing the prisoner to the court for the general process. It will surely result in speedy justice to the arrested person with much consumption of time. Fourthly, courtroom technology enables the court to link with the foreign court directly and accelerating the case process for granting valid judgments. Thus, Courtroom technology enables in faster delivery of justice and would be adopted by the court of law by different countries in the coming years.

  • Internet and justice information
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The Internet is considered to be the biggest invention ever made by the human race. It is the product of technology and connects the people around the world. Internet has gained a dominant status in the field related to law and justice. It is helping law enforcement agencies and authorities to flourish their information to the common people via the internet. Nowadays, people can easily get the legal forms and contact police to get justice, all because of internet access. For example, E-FIR is the registration of complaint / grievances of the victim in electronic form. People can easily fill up the form of FIR at their own convenience at home. This reduces the gathering of people at the police station and helps in providing instant relief to the victim regarding the proceedings. Various laws related information and data are circulated around the world via the internet. For example, new regulation and acts can be easily enforced across the country and such data can be upload at their respective sites. NGOs and legal aid institutions are providing free legal services to the poor citizens by the way of online advice and counselling. As we all know, courtroom technology cannot be imagined without the existence of the internet.

  • Use of Videotape and recording

Video recording is taken as one of the important sources of evidence in contemporary times. Videotapes and video recording is admissible in the court as important evidence. If there would be no camera, it would be very difficult to punish criminals due to lack of evidences. Lack of video recording technology affects the efficiency of the court in deciding the case due to lack of evidence. Indian law has given special evidence value to the video recording.

  • DNA testing

Technology has emerged as one of the important aspects of criminal justice. DNA testing is the result of technology. DNA testing is considered as a remarkable discovery in the field of criminal justice. It is admissible as primary evidence in court and is conducted by a forensic investigator to collect valuable information regarding the crime and offenses. Thus, DNA testing is a product of technology without which the pace of criminal justice would lack.

  • Big Data

Big data helps in collection of data. Huge amount of data is produced every single day. Big data is used for criminal justice in European countries for the collection of vital information such as DNA, fingerprints, criminal records, Bio data, etc. These data are used for identifying the criminal trends and better detention of their activities. Big data is shared between the agencies across the country. For example, Ram, a criminal suspect escaped from one state to another state, the information collected regarding Ram can be used by other state authorities to track down the criminals. This shortens the searching procedures and speed up the justice system.

How Would Technology Impact on Justice in the Future?

We all know, Technology will be evolving as time passes. More advanced gadgets and equipment will be invented for the betterment of human life. Likewise, Technology will surely play a dominant role in criminal justice as well as in law aspects. Some of the technologies that will evolve in the near future for the enforcement of law are discussed below:

  • Use of robot

The use of robots will grow at a rapid pace in the coming years. Advanced countries like Japan, UAE, America and some European countries have started using robot cops for the convenience of the public. These robots help in collection of data and assist people.

In 2016, the US military provided a number of robots to the police forces for the enforcement of the law.[4]Deployment of robots has started in several countries including India for the security concern and in future, these robots will help in catching the criminals. In Dubai, Dubai police Robots help in legal assistance to citizens, pay fine and access police in formations.

  • Drones and Rapid identification System

In the future, Drones will act as an eye in the sky for the police. These drones will be equipped with the weapon and firing technology. These will help in reduction of the number of offenders and provide instant justice to the victim. The rise of big data will help in the rapid identification of the criminal by the police staff. It will give the complete criminal history and information of the individual and this information can be used by the authorities for putting the criminals behind the bars.

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These were some of the technologies that would be seen in the future for the better law enforcement and assisting the authorities in the maintenance of law of the land. Future will be different, criminal acts will be more dangerous. In order to cope with such notorious acts, technologies will be the weapon for the police authorities to neutralize the crime. Technology will also bring such methods that will enhance the functioning of the courts and delivery of better judgments depending upon the evidence collected with the help of technology. Thus, technologies in future will help in the reduction of crime rates and ensure justice and prosperity among people.

How is Technology Successful in Impacting Justice in India?

Numbers of cases are pending in India due to lack of judicial officers and lack of advanced technology. New technology is only the solution to solve this problem. Government is focusing on improving the technology in court for better access to justice. Technology is being used for the filing of FIR, RTI application, Licensing and updating the status of the cases. Recently, on May 10, 2017, PM Narendra Modi launched Integrated Case Management Information System (ICMIS) which enables filing of digital cases and appeals to the Supreme Court.[5] The chat and conversation that happen on WhatsApp and Facebook can be admitted as evidence in court, as was held in Tata Sons Limited and Ors. v. John Doe (2016) by the Delhi High Court. The Ministry of Law has announced opening online mediation for reducing the suits in near future. It is seen that India is adopting modern technology for the speedy disposal of suits and access to justice to citizens.

Conclusion

New technologies are transforming each and every component of criminal justice and procedures of the court. These technologies are enhancing the efficiency of law enforcement authorities and courts. It is seen that technologies are bringing improvement in the justice delivery process. But it is also to be noted that technology is being used by the offender for spreading terror and committing crimes and offences. Cyber crimes are increasing at an alarming pace and violating several laws. Criminals are using technology for their own benefit for the devastation of society and fulfilling their demands. Technology is a double-edged sword; it can be used for improving the legal system as well as destroying the law and order of a place. New technology is changing the investigation and identification system. Technology has completely changed the nature and working style of police. The police are also well versed with the languages of technology for the neutralization and collection of evidence. Technology has become the assisting arm of the police and court of law. It has greatly enhanced the reliability and confidence in law enforcement authorities by the public. It is fulfilling the criteria of the democratic country and following the norms of constitutions by providing instant access to justice and maintenances of the rule of law in the country. In a nutshell, technology has emerged as a factor responsible for the delivery of speedy justice and betterment of mankind.


[1] James E. Cabral, Abhijeet Chavan, Thomas M. Clarke, John Greacen, Bonnie Rose Hough, Linda Rexer, Jane Ribadeneyra & Richard Zorza, Using technology to enhance access to justice26(1) Harvard Journal of Law & Technology, 244 (2012).

[2] Elets News Network, Mainstreaming ICT for Judicial Delivery System (November 19, 2019), https://egov.eletsonline.com/2007/11/mainstreaming-ict-for-judicial-delivery-system/

[3] Government of India, Approval for Phase II of eCourts Mission Mode Project (November 19, 2019), http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=123318

[4] Law enforcement robotic database, New York: center for the study of drones (April 2, 2019), https://dronecenter.bard.edu/law-enforcement-robots-datasheet/

[5] Press Trust of India, CJI pitches for digital filing of cases, The Hindu 2017.