The subject of 'Judiciary and technology' has many dimensions. We are now globally connected by technology. Even a Ricksawala today uses smartphone. Judiciary has to computerize and has to become paperless. Greek Philosopher Heraclitus: "There is nothing is permanent except change."
Through this conference we are trying to say that we are changing ourselves. People fear the adoption of technology as if it will take away their jobs. It will only transform their mode of work. Any slackness in adoption of technology will not be congenial for the future. We have to adopt modern technology.
Judiciary is overburdened and technology can help in reducing this burden. Technology can also help us in delivering speedy justice. Digitisation is necessary to reduce the pendency of cases. Various applications and schemes and propositions coming through the E-Committee are doing this. Unfortunately. in some of the places, computers have not even been installed. Push towards digitisation should be there. It should be ensured that even the subordinate judiciary (lower courts) is properly connected. We need to take steps to digitize judiciary.
This process of digitization should begin with the lower court as 'Charity begins at home' and once installed, it should be maintained and regularly checked. In the separate concurring opinion penned by Justice V. Ramasubramaniam in Arjun Panditrao Khotkar v. Kailash Kushanrao Gorantyal and ors., decided on 14th July, 2020 AIR 2020 SC 4908, how behind we are in digitization in field of law has been discussed and unfortunately the legislature has yet to work on it. But, when marching towards digitization, we also have to ensure that data security is well taken care of. Efforts must be made at all stages for the data to be secure.
Time and again, the need for Bilingual approach in courts has been felt because the link and communication through local language is very important to appreciate evidence. Further, Litigant should know what we are doing. This will lead to firmer faith in judiciary. Today, through technology, translation is no longer a hurdle. Translation in local language should be made available.
When speaking about the use of technology in handling cases, Justice Shahi said that in the Indian scenario, cases and their facts are very complex. Indian society functions more on emotions. Data analysis cannot therefore substitute assessment by human mind. The demeanour of the accused, witnesses, etc has to be assessed by the judge along with several other factors to arrive at a decision. Reliance on data analysis may lead to injustice.
Justice Shahi also pointed towards the void in legislation with respect to investigation and accessing digital devices. The Karnataka High Court in the remarkable judgment of Virender Khanna v. State of Karnataka, issued guidelines with regard to the same, which judicial officers across the state could make use of.
Justice Shahi when speaking about the concept of cooperative and competitive federalism in India, highlighted the statement made by Former Chief Justice of India, Justice S.A. Bobde made during a conference for training of judges from Bangladesh, "We might follow the principle of separation of powers in governance but we do not have separation of purpose. All the organs of government should work towards the welfare of people."
While speaking about Freedom of speech and expression, Justice Shahi stressed that it is constitutional supremacy which governs us not judicial or parliamentary supremacy. What we have is 'swatntrata' not 'swachchandata'.
While speaking about precedents, Justice Shahi cited East India Co. Ltd. v. Collector of Customs AIR 1962 SC 1893. He said that the High Court which has the jurisdictional authority has control over all courts in the jurisdiction. Other High Courts' judgments are only persuasive in nature. While, Justice William Douglas, had said that court should not shy away from innovating, however, judicial discipline has to be maintained and the subordinate courts are all bound by the judgment of the High Court which has jurisdiction over that state or union territory.
When speaking about the bail jurisprudence in India, Justice Shahi remarked that we are running on an intermediate system without any finalities. When allowing bail, reasons should be given but not decisions. The lower courts should refer to the judgement in Satyendra Kumar Antil v. CBI and Ors, AIR 2022 SC 3386 for guidance in matters of granting bail. District judiciary should stop refusing bail. The High Courts are overburdened already.
Justice Shahi concluded his address by congratulating the Judicial Academy, Jharkhand for successfully organizing the conference of such a large scale.