New Delhi: According to a statement by the Ministry of Law & Justice, Government of India, as many as 2,927 court complexes across India have been connected so far by a high-speed Wide Area Network (WAN) under the e-Courts Project. It has led to the completion of 97.86% sites out of 2,992 sites conceived to be connected with high-speed WAN under the project. The Department of Justice (DoJ) along with BSNL is working on connecting the remaining sites.
Under the e-Courts Project, one of the largest digital networks of the world was conceived by the Department of Justice along with the e-Committee of the Supreme Court of India to connect the 2,992 court complexes located all over India by a high-speed Wide Area Network (WAN) via different modes of connectivity such as Optical Fibre Cable (OFC), Radio Frequency (RF), Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) etc. In May 2018 the mandate of providing Managed MPLS VPN services to all these sites was entrusted to the BSNL, which has pan India presence with latest state-of-the-art technology and high-end telecom infrastructure and transmission equipment. The BSNL also has a presence at all corners of India, including NE region, Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), Uttarakhand, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, etc.
The Law Ministry explained that many courts under the e-Courts project are located in far-flung areas where terrestrial cable cannot be used for providing connectivity. Such areas are termed as Technically Not Feasible (TNF) and, in the DoJ’s endeavour to bridge the digital divide, connectivity is being established at TNF sites using alternative means like RF, VSAT etc. With persistent deliberations, meetings, and coordination with different stakeholders including BSNL and the Courts, the DoJ has been able to reduce the total TNF sites from 58 in 2019 to 14 in 2020, thus leading to saving of public money as the cost of providing connectivity through alternative means like VSAT is much higher. The Department of Justice has also decided to use the newly inaugurated submarine (undersea) cable for providing connectivity to 5 TNF sites in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
In the Covid-19 pandemic scenario, importance of connectivity becomes greater as courts are suddenly under huge pressure for the online hearing of cases. The Ministry of Law revealed that the DoJ has therefore constituted a high-powered committee with representatives from the BSNL, NIC, e-Committee etc. to review the bandwidth requirement in the changed scenario. The Department of Justice, along with the e-Committee of the Supreme Court of India, has taken a major leap towards digital transformation and its success in leveraging digital technologies for transforming the Judiciary and providing access to justice to ordinary citizens is being appreciated at all levels, the Law Ministry stated.
As part of National e-Governance Plan, the e-Courts Project is an Integrated Mission Mode Project under implementation since 2007 for the ICT development of the Indian Judiciary based on the ‘National Policy and Action Plan for Implementation of Information and Communication Technology in Indian Judiciary’.
The Government approved the computerisation of 14,249 district & subordinate Courts under the e-Courts Project Phase I (2007-15). The objective of the e-Courts Project is to provide designated services to litigants, lawyers, and the judiciary by universal computerisation of district and subordinate courts in the country by leveraging Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for improved justice delivery. Envisaging further ICT enhancement through universal computerisation of all the courts, Phase II of the project was approved by the Cabinet in July 2015 with a cost of Rs. 1,670 crore under which 16,845 courts have been computerised, the Law Ministry concluded.
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