Wednesday, October 29, 2014

E-Judiciary In India Is Needed

India has been experimenting with technology for long. Even a basic level legal framework has been introduced in India in the form of Information Technology Act, 2000 though it requires immediate repeal or amendment. There are many shortcomings of the IT Act 2000 and one of them is non binding nature of e-governance obligations of Indian government. The National E-Governance Plan (NEGP) of India has also failed to meet its objectives and marks. As a result India has failed on the fronts of both e-government and e-governance.

While India is still struggling to deal with basic level technology adoption, the BJP government has announced projects like Digital India and Internet of things (IoT) that rely prominently upon technology. These projects intend to extend the services to general public in the filed like healthcare, education, judicial services etc.

As far as judiciary is concerned, we are still struggling to establish the first e-court of India till October 2014. In these circumstances, achieving the objective of establishing e-judiciary in India is still a distant dream. E-judiciary project of India is also suffering from lack of techno legal expertise to manage the same. For instance, we have a single techno legal e-courts training centre in India. There is urgent need to develop e-courts skills in India so that e-judiciary project can become a reality.

However, it is not the case that no progress has been made in this regard. India judiciary has taken a pro active role to introduce technology for legal and judicial purposes. For instance legal notices can be served through e-mails, e-filing directions has been prescribed by Delhi High Court, marriage registration certificates can be obtained through video conferencing, etc.

If India wishes to achieve her noble objective of providing access to justice to marginalised segment of India, courts automation and digital preservation, much more is required to be done. Mere policy formulation is not going to be helpful and it is the actual implementation that is important. The BJP government must stress upon actual implementation than formulating policies and strategies that remain on paper alone.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Making Aadhaar Compulsory Is Unconstitutional And Contempt Of Court

Aadhaar initiative was introduced as an optional and enabling technology. With the passage of time, Indian government has made Aadhaar not only compulsory but also an intrusive, privacy violating and mass surveillance instrument. Surprisingly, none of the e-surveillance projects of India have any sort of parliamentary oversight. Aadhaar is also suffering from various vices and constitutional infirmities. This was the reason that the Supreme Court of India declared that Aadhaar cannot be made mandatory (Pdf) for availing services in India.

Aadhaar is also suffering from many other infirmities. For instance, there is no privacy law in India and data protection law in India (pdf) as on date. Aadhaar has also failed to address the concerns of data security, cyber security (PDF) and civil liberties in India. The intelligence agencies of India are operating without any parliamentary oversight and they need urgent reforms in these circumstances.

It is not the case that Indian government is not aware of these issues and circumstances. However, Indian government prefers to keep the things in a state of anarchy and chaos by citing national security and welfare schemes. The truth is that both the concepts of national security and welfare schemes are baseless in India when it comes to blatant violation of civil liberties of Indians.

The only solace is the fact that these issues are presently pending before the Indian Supreme Court to be adjudicated upon. The Supreme Court has already issues interim orders prohibiting the state governments and central government from discriminating on the ground of non availability of Aadhaar number. However, till now these directions have been openly violated by Indian government and various state governments.

This is also a hint of confrontation between the executive and judiciary that is solely provoked by the executive in an illegal and unconstitutional manner. There is little hope that the proposed law in this regard may be enacted very soon, if at all. The only option left in these circumstances is that the Supreme Court of India must declare Aadhaar project illegal and unconstitutional and scrap the same in the larger interest of India.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Online Poker And Rummy Websites Are Flouting Laws Of India Says Perry4Law

Gambling in India is a complicated legal field as Indian Constitution has conferred the power to make laws regarding gambling to various states of India. While these states are free to make gambling and gaming laws within the parameters of their respective jurisdictions, they cannot encroach upon the territories of other states in this regard.

When Internet and other technologies are used, gambling and gamming assumes the character of online gambling and gaming. This is clearly not allowed as per the constitutional scheme. This is the reason that online gambling in India is a subject for the central government to manage. However, online gambling legal issues in India are not easy to manage.

The issue of legality of online gaming in India is pending before the Supreme Court of India says Praveen Dalal, managing partner of New Delhi based technology law firm Perry4Law. However, the decision of Supreme Court in this regard may not bring a relief to online gaming stakeholders at large. The Supreme Court sought the opinion of Central Government in this regard but the same was not formally provided by the Central Government till now.

The problem with online poker and online rummy websites of India is that a dominant majority of them are not at all following the laws of India and are actually violating the same, informs Dalal. They may be prosecuted very soon as allowing them to operate in an illegal manner would be counterproductive in the long run, opines Dalal.

There has been an increased numbers of arrests and prosecutions of various individuals and companies in India in this regard. For instance, recently the owner of an online betting website for IPL 7 was arrested in Mumbai for allowing betting on his website. Similar arrests have been made by police of Delhi, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, etc. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has also established a Sports Integrity Unit to investigate illegal sports betting in India.

According to Perry4Law, till the time Indian Supreme Court or central government clarifies the legal position regarding online gaming and gambling in India, the online gaming/gambling stakeholders must comply with existing and applicable techno legal requirements of Indian laws.