EVOLUTION OF INDIAN LAW IN THE ERA OF DIGITALIZATION

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This article has been written by Bhavya Verma of JEMTEC School of Law, Greater Noida andCurated by Nandita Mishra, Chanakya National Law University, Patna.

The digital world has been evolving in the country for a decade now and it has come a long way since its inception. The idea of connecting people over social media platforms was still at its nascent stage when suddenly it became a stage for people to raise their voices and concerns over varying subjects and domains. Social Media has played a very pivotal role in expanding the scope of digitalization in the world. Eventually, matters of grave concern in every nation-state began being discussed on such social media platforms and the discussions used to include mass participation from people all across the world. It led to matters, unheard of before, also being discussed and debated amongst netizens given the accessibility and reach of internet and it became democratic due to the inclusion of voices which transcended social, political, economic and class inequalities.

Technology, apart from bringing the social change, acted as a means of operation in various sectors. The reliability started to increase with each passing day and the and digitalization started reaching the rural parts of the state. With the introduction of digitalization across various fields, Indian Judiciary was soon to take a cue and follow the leads.

With the onset of COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing became a norm across the globe and the courts were left with no other alternative but to evolve and adapt to the changes by conducting the proceedings virtually on various digital platforms. The bane to the Indian courts has always been the pending cases which have been racked up for several years and conservation of the documents pertaining to each and every case. Many jurists have emphasized upon the importance of digitalization and have voiced their opinion about the same due to the backlogging of cases in the courts.

The way for technology was first paved in the Indian judiciary in the case of Meters and Instruments Pvt. Ltd. Vs. Kanchan Mehta wherein it was held that certain categories of cases can be partly or entirely concluded online. The judgement also stated that overcrowding in the courts can be avoided by avoiding paperless methods.

An estimate shows that there is involvement of over 11 billion sheets in cases filed in the courts annually, which ecologically translates into destruction of lakhs of trees.

Smart and exciting technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, data analytics and predictive analytics have already begun to disrupt the legal market.

The implications of the pandemic have put light on productive working hours of the courts. Indian Judiciary had to face immense pressure for finding innovative means to draw a balance between access to justice and public health concerns. Some courts have even laid guidelines for non-disruptive video conferencing for handling of cases but this should not be the only way or solution to keep the courts running. Complete digitalization of the judiciary is the need of the hour. E-filing, E-hearing, E-Trials, uniform structure of judgments are the ones which can enable easy search and analytics to spot similar cases. A unique case number that remains the same from the lower through to the apex court and a government mandated app to inform the clients about their next hearing, including absenteeism of the judge or opposite party a day prior to the hearing to prevent unnecessary travel and crowding of courts by clients and lawyers, shall further uncomplicate the entire procedure. For this to be enacted and incorporated within the judicial system at the earliest, clerks, lawyers, judges and clients will have to be trained on the working and procedure of using such technology.  Experts in the field of Information Technology can be consulted  to lend a helping hand in identifying, evaluating and implementing the best technologies.  Processes will need to be designed by experienced people to get the best out of the selected technologies.

Technology has made inroads in the legal regime in unimaginable ways and it’s not merely limited to making advancements in the management of cases and proceedings. With the advancement of Artificial Intelligence, there has come a new branch of law into existence known as the AI Law. This law has basically been formulated to not only look at affairs of human beings, but also the acts of machines and the problems arising out of it.

The case of Music Distribution has come a long way in the Indian subcontinent. The evolution of technology has made very significant impacts in this arena. The process of making music and the distribution of the same has evolved in phases, from music being shared by writing the musical notes on paper to the same being shared via physical recording, to the era of digital recording. The most pertinent issue related to the same is copyright. The surprising part in the instant scenario has been the fact that the advancement of technology comes as a solution instead of the usual entanglement between technology and law. The advanced technology by evolving itself found solutions to the problems that it had created for itself.

During the earlier times, the issues related to copyright used to be easily handled via the domestic copyright laws of the state. Problems started to arise with the globalization and development of the digital era. During this phase, the rights of the music directors and creators were seriously hampered due to circulation and demand of pirated CDs whose distribution did not provide the owners with the profits and royalty that they actually deserved. Decades after, the internet became as a source of interconnecting, sharing of the music started taking place via internet. Music was being downloaded without providing the directors and creators of music the royalty they deserved. This was becoming a culture all around the country in such a way that the users did not have an inkling that it was illegal to download music online. In such a situation, it seemed like the technological advancement had created a problem for the music directors and creators.

However, the advent of sites like Saavn, Spotify, Amazon Music etc came as a boon for music creators as it started providing music to the people for free along with perks that had costs attached to them, while also paying the creators for their content.

In this case, the evolution of technology found a solution to the problem it had itself caused.

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