The centres are designed to provide litigants legal aid and are “one-stop assistance centres” which offer a gamut of services, especially for those deprived of technology.
“The hallmark of every great institution and judges is that they are keener on justice and not merely on law,” said Chief Justice of India SA Bobde recently while inaugurating an e-Sewa Kendra in the High Court of Tripura. CJI Bobde appealed to judges to be more attentive towards justice and said e-Sewa Kendras were designed to help litigants with all legal aid and assistance.
He said that while e-courts had made access to justice dependent on access to information and telecommunication technology, the e-Sewa Kendras sought to reduce and eliminate these problems. He quoted an old saying about legal aid in England: “Access to justice is like a rich hotel; it’s open to all.” He stated that it was the meaninglessness of such words which the e-Kendras sought to eliminate. Even though he was acutely conscious that if the judicial processes were done online, justice would become dependent on technology, he said it had to be done to avoid a complete shutdown of courts amid the pandemic.
The e-Committee of the Supreme Court, whose chairman is Justice DY Chandrachud, is the governing body charged with overseeing the e-courts project conceptualised under the “National Policy and Action Plan for Implementation of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in the Indian Judiciary–2005”. This is a pan-India project monitored and funded by the Department of Justice, Ministry of Law and Justice, with a vision to transform the judicial system by ICT enablement of courts.