Open Courts in the Digital Age : A Prescription for an Open Data Policy

Reports by Judicial Reform & Reports by Vidhi Karnataka · November 20, 2019
Author(s): Adrija Jayanthy, Ameen Jauhar, Chitrakshi Jain, Divij Joshi, Malavika Rajkumar, Prashant Reddy, Shreya Tripathy and Tarika Jain

Due to the digitisation efforts of the E-committee of the Supreme Court, individual High Courts and Ministry of Law and Justice a lot of judicial data is being collected across the three tiers of the Indian judiciary. Yet the judiciary does not have an open data policy in place to facilitate access to this data in a meaningful manner in order to enable innovation that will help in both, the dissemination of legal information as well as furthering judicial accountability. The discussion on the evolution of open courts is of particular importance in order to address potential privacy concerns that are likely to be raised by opponents of an open data policy.

For the purpose of this report, we have looked at 5 different classes of information and end with the critical issue of translating the law into more Indian languages to guarantee accessibility:

i) Judicial Data regarding case details from e-courts; websites of High Courts and other digital services;

ii) Judicial pleadings;

iii) The judgments of Courts;

iv) The video recordings of court proceedings;

v) Legislative texts;

vi) Translations into more Indian languages.

We explain the historical context for each category of information mentioned above, in order to explain why an open data policy has the impact to revolutionise access to legal information and judicial accountability, both of which are critical pillars for ensuring the rule of law in India. In this backdrop, this report will try to identify bright lines on contentious issues like privacy, commercial confidence and copyright law, to carve out possible exceptions which such an open data policy will ideally have to recognize.

Download the full report- Open Courts in the Digital Age : A Prescription for an Open Data Policy


About Adrija Jayanthy:

Adrija is a Research Fellow at Vidhi. She is the Content Lead at Nyaaya. She graduated from NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad with a B.A.L.L.B(Hons) in 2016. Subsequently, she worked at Khaitan & Co., Mumbai in capital markets, securities, corporate, competition and litigation practices for a year. She is presently overlooking the content of the Nyaaya website and is involved in generating content on a scale. Link to full bio


About Ameen Jauhar:

Ameen is a Senior Resident Fellow at Vidhi, and is leading advocacy for the JALDI mission, which is a collaboration between Vidhi and Tata Trust. His work at Vidhi deals with judicial reforms and access to justice issues in India. Ameen is interested in furthering evidence-based policy, following which he recently completed his master’s programme from the Institute of Education (University College London), focusing on the use of research evidence in policy processes, and was awarded an MSc. with an overall distinction. Before this, he completed his undergraduate legal studies from the W.B. National University of Juridical Sciences [B.A. LL.B. (Hons.)] in 2012. Prior to Vidhi, Ameen worked at J. Sagar Associates, in the firm’s regulatory and policy team. He has practised in the Supreme Court of India, the Delhi High Court, and numerous tribunals. Link to full bio


About Chitrakshi Jain:

Chitrakshi is a Research Fellow with the Judicial Reforms vertical. As member of the vertical she has worked on issues such as judicial funding, transparency in the judiciary and other aspects that affect the functioning of the institution. Her areas of interest include public institutions, urban governance and governance of Scheduled Areas. A 2014 graduate of NALSAR, Hyderabad she was working as a research associate for Centre for Social Justice, Ahmedabad prior to joining Vidhi. Interested in pursuing research that lies at the intersection of law and social sciences, she completed her Masters in Politics from the University of Delhi and is currently also pursuing research at the Centre for the Study of Law and Governance, JNU on urbanisation and governance.


About Divij Joshi:

Divij Joshi is a Research Fellow at Vidhi, Bengaluru. He graduated from the National Law School of India University, Bangalore, in 2016, and subsequently worked in the disputes resolution team of AZB & Partners in Mumbai. He has also worked as an independent consultant and researcher with civil society organizations, and regularly writes on topics of intellectual property rights and the information society. His areas of interest include access to knowledge, innovation and law and technology.


About Malavika Rajkumar:

Malavika is a Research Fellow with Nyaaya. She will be graduating with a B.B.A.LLB degree from Symbiosis Law School, Noida. She has previously interned with Vidhi and organizations such as the Centre for WTO Studies, Indian Institute of Foreign Trade and Chambers of Indira Jaising working on research related to Human Rights Law, Data Protection laws and Refugee Laws. She is also the Vice-Chair for Research and Development at the Indian National Bar Association and had worked with the National Research and Policy Team of IDIA. She was an avid mooter in college and has done research in the areas of Public International Law and Environmental Laws. Link to full bio


About Prashant Reddy:

Prashant Reddy T. is a Senior Resident Fellow with the Judicial Reforms team. His areas of interest include judicial reforms, intellectual property law and drug regulation. He has a B.A.LLB (Hons.) degree from the National Law School of India University and a LLM degree from Stanford Law School. Prashant was awarded the Tata Scholarship by the J.N. Tata Endowment for pursuing his LLM. He is the co-author of ‘Create, Copy, Disrupt: India’s Intellectual Property Dilemmas’ which was published by Oxford University Press. He has been published in peer reviewed academic journals in India and abroad, as well as in newspapers, national magazines and digital platforms such as the Hindu, Indian Express, Business Standard, Economic Times, Caravan, Open, Scroll, Wire, Hoot, Bloomberg Quint and Live Law. He previously blogged for SpicyIP which is India’s leading blog on intellectual property law. Link to full bio


About Shreya Tripathy:

Shreya is a Research Fellow with the Judicial Reforms team. At Vidhi, she researches on areas like gender representation and efficient budgeting in the judiciary. Her areas of interest include Human Rights & Judicial Reforms. She has publications in law & policy review journals and online platforms such as First Post. She graduated with B.B.A.LL.B. from National Law University, Odisha in 2018. During her time there she worked as a member of various organizing committees including TEDxNLUO and also worked as the head of the cultural committee of the college. She has previously interned at organizations like Nyaaya, CHRI, SAHRDC and PLD. Link to full bio


About Tarika Jain:

Tarika is a Research Fellow with the Judicial Reforms team. At Vidhi, she researches on gender representation, efficient budgeting and transparency in the judiciary with an empirical lens. Her areas of interest include law and economics, and governance. Tarika graduated from Gujarat National Law University with B.A. LL.B. (Hons.) in 2017. She has publications in peer reviewed law and social sciences journals and online platforms like Firstpost and Oxford Human Rights Blog. Prior to joining Vidhi, she was working for Gujarat State Petronet Limited, a state Public Sector Undertaking in the oil and gas sector where she was involved in various litigation and arbitration matters. She has previously interned with the Law Commission of India and Hon’ble Justice N.V. Ramana at the Supreme Court. Tarika is a pop culture enthusiast and enjoys watching anime and rockumentaries in her free time. Link to full bio