The government has decided to allocate a unique identification number to every judge in the country , including those in the Supreme Court and the 24 high courts, to help the apex court track the performance of individual judges and make all judgments delivered by a judge through his career available on the National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG).As of now, no such records are maintained.
Once all judgments are linked with the unique IDs of judges, the publicly accessed national grid can be accessed to look at a judge’s performance–the quality of judgments, the number of adjournments allowed in different cases, time taken for delivery of judgments, disposal rate of cases and suchlike.
Currently , such details about individual judges are not available on any centralised electronic platform.Court-specific orders and case records are available but not those specific to a judge.
As part of its ongoing implementation of the second phase of e-courts project, monitored by the SC e-committee, the government has asked the National Informatics Centre (NIC) to work on giving a unique ID to all judges–around 16,000 in the subordinate judiciary and 650 in the higher judiciary . The idea of the unique ID is to provide such details specific to a judge. The moment a judge leaves a court or is elevated to the higher judiciary , it is difficult to track hisher performance in the previous assignment.
The NIC has also been asked to work on authenticating digital signatures of judges and migrate around 17,000-odd courts in the country , connected with the NJDG, to the latest software of the Case Information System (CIS 2.0).
The new software version has additional fields where it will be mandatory for a judge to provide the details of daily proceedings in each case, such as if the hearing was for appearance of witness, argument, process evidence, delivery of judgment etc.
At present, the information available in each court, as uploaded on the NJDG, only mentions “hearing“ against each case in the data grid even when the case has been adjourned on repeated dates. It is difficult to ascertain the progress of the case, a source said. Judges with unique IDs will have to specify the nature of proceedings on a daily basis in the online log sheet, whether he delivered judgement, reserved it or no business was transacted.In the new software CIS 2.0, the judge will have to mention reasons if no business was transacted.
There is a provision in the second phase of the e-courts project to equip each judge with a laptop and encourage himher to view e-copies of cases or appeals filed, and pass instructions in electronic format with a digital signature.The idea is to move towards a paperless court very soon.Judges with digital signatures can sign in the electronic format while delivering judgment so that the order is simultaneously uploaded and no manual writing of order is involved. Some HCs have made significant progress in moving towards paperless courts and allocated unique IDs to judges.