SC to share cause list, info about filing and listing of cases through WhatsApp: CJI

Elaborating further, Justice Chandrachud said under this initiative, the Advocates-on Records (AoRs) and the litigants, who appear in person before the top court, will get automated messages regarding electronic filing of cases, cause lists, orders and judgements.
Justice Chandrachud
Justice Chandrachud

New Delhi | In a significant step towards digitisation, Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud on Thursday announced that the Supreme Court will share information relating to cause lists and filing and listing of cases to advocates through WhatsApp messages, saying it will have a "big-bang impact" and will go a long way in saving paper and the earth.

The announcement on integration of WhatsApp with its Information and Communications Technology (ICT) services was made by the CJI before a nine-judge bench headed by him commenced the hearing on the vexed legal question arising from the petitions about whether private properties can be considered "material resources of the community" under Article 39(b) of the Constitution, which is a part of the Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP).

"In the 75th year of its existence, the Supreme Court launches a small initiative. It has the potential to have a big-bang impact. WhatsApp messenger has been a ubiquitous service in our daily lives and has taken the role of a powerful communication tool. To strengthen the right to access to justice and enhance transparency in the judicial system, the Supreme Court announces integration of WhatsApp messaging services with its IT services," the CJI said.

Elaborating further, Justice Chandrachud said under this initiative, the Advocates-on Records (AoRs) and the litigants, who appear in person before the top court, will get automated messages regarding electronic filing of cases, cause lists, orders and judgements.

"The cause lists will be sent to all members of the bar by the registry as and when published. The orders and judgements available on the website will also be sent through WhatsApp," he said.

A cause list features the cases to be heard by a court on a given day.

"This is another revolutionary step...," Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said.

The CJI also shared the top court's official WhatsApp number 8767687676 and said it will not be receiving any messages and calls.

"This will bring a significant change in our working habits and will go a long way in saving papers and our planet Earth," Justice Chandrachud said.

The CJI, referring to digitisation of judicial functions, said now more and more lawyers will have access to the courts and “even people from remote areas can access simple cases involving citizen issues as well.” "We are also migrating all our services into Meghraj cloud 2.0 which is the cloud infrastructure created by National Informatics Centre (NIC) ...The data is preserved on servers in India," he said.

Taking note of the submissions of a lawyer that high courts and tribunals are not on the same page as the Supreme Court on the issue of technological advancement, he said, "Some high courts say tell us 48 hours in advance for video conference links and you can get only if you are above 60 years of age (and have difficulty attending the proceedings physically). We had to pass a judicial order saying what this is and how it can be done." Underscoring the importance of video conferencing facilities, the CJI said if the investigation officer (IO) of a case has been transferred, he should be able to appear virtually. The trial court proceedings need not be adjourned if the IO has been shifted, he said.

"We are moving rapidly by pushing the high courts to do this and there is financial backing also. And now the money goes straight from the central government through the e-court committee of the high courts," he said.

The top court, under the leadership of CJI Chandrachud, has been taking steps to digitise the functioning of the judiciary.

He said the Centre has sanctioned Rs 7,000 crore for the e-court project.

The solicitor general shared the views of the central government and the prime minister and said they were committed to digitisation of the judiciary to enhance the access to justice for common litigants and lawyers.

"There is a direction from the prime minister that gives first priority to digitisation because access to justice is possible to the common man if there is digitisation and this is the priority of the government too," the top law officer said.

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