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Siddharth Peter de Souza

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Siddharth Peter de Souza is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Global Data Justice project, Tilburg University, The Netherlands, and is interested in the role data plays at the intersection of law and development. He was previously a Ph.D. researcher at Humboldt University, Berlin, and studied law at the University of Cambridge and at the University of Delhi. He was also a German Chancellor Fellow at the Max Planck Foundation for International Peace and Rule of Law, Heidelberg, and as Judicial Clerk at the High Court of Delhi. Siddharth is the founder of Justice Adda, a legal design social venture in India that empowers people to understand and use the law, and a researcher at FemLab.Co

The Supreme Court of India's Vision for e-Courts: The Need to Retain Justice as a Public Service [HTML version]

One of the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic is the change in the way in which societies - individuals and groups, businesses and governments - op

The Supreme Court of India's Vision for e-Courts: The Need to Retain Justice as a Public Service

Disruptions, at times, become catalysts for initiating change. Although India’s journey to create digital infrastructure to deliver justice commenced before the outbreak of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), lockdowns imposed to curb the spread of the pandemic hastened the pace of the country’s judicial system going online. In this Policy Watch, legal researchers, Siddharth Peter de Souza , Varsha Aithala and Srishti John , discuss some fundamental issues that emerge from India’s plans to move towards e-Courts. This digitalised mode of delivering justice enabled courts to function with some capacity during the multiple lockdowns in India since March 2020. While the authors recognise the value of e-Courts, they argue that unless the digitalisation efforts factor in considerations of equity and inclusion for users, the outcomes would remain hollow and divorced from India’s socio-political reality. The Supreme Court of India recently placed a draft of its Vision Document for e-Courts for public discussion until May 31, 2021. Drawing from this document, the authors critically evaluate India’s approach towards electronic dispensation of justice, highlight conceptual issues relating to delivery of justice as a service that need to be addressed. They call for a fundamental rethink of the vision for e-Courts to ensure that the delivery of justice remains in the domain of public service. The aim of this Policy Watch is to highlight the implications of widening the range of players involved in the process of justice delivery by commodifying it without adequate scrutiny or accountability. Understanding these implications is important to bring about corrective action that will ensure that the administration of justice remains equally accessible and accountable to all. HTML version Related Resources : 1. Department of Justice, Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of India. 2015 . Evaluation Study of eCourts Integrated Mission Mode Project , National Council of Applied Economic Research. []. 2. e-Committee, Supreme Court of India . Rules on Live-Streaming and Recording of Court Proceedings . []. Related Articles Published in The Hindu Centre for Politics and Public Policy: 1. Priya, R. et al., 2022. COVID-19: Urban Middle Class Survey Highlights Need for People’s Agency in Policy Making, February 18. 2. Subramanian, S. 2021. Pandemic-induced Poverty in India after the First Wave of COVID-19: An Elaboration of Two Earlier Estimates, August 19. 3. Shankar, G and Kiumari, R. 2020. The Migrant Economy During the Pandemic: An Exploratory Study in Baisi Block, Bihar, December 10. 4. Jacob, N. 2020. Sewage Testing as a Pandemic Monitoring Tool, September 10. [PDF 474 KB]