By: Kiran Deshpande, Co-Founder, Mojo Networks
Last year, India got its first e-court at the High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad. The e-courts initiative is a welcome one. With 25 million pending cases, and between 70 thousand to one lakh cases being filed every day1, the judiciary in India desperately needs technology to deliver justice. E-courts are not just courts with Internet access; they are completely paperless courts, where the litigation process itself is digital. A stated goal of the e-courts is Citizen Centric Service – time-bound, efficient, affordable, accessible, and transparent service delivery. To that end, the e-court service even offers an app for Android and iOS.
If citizens are to use their smartphones to file cases, submit evidence, and even participate in virtual court hearings, one will agree that the court will require secure cyber infrastructure – meaning secure Internet access, secure network, secure devices and secure WiFi.
WiFi is crucial to e-courts. The first and foremost reason is that WiFi is the preferred and the fastest growing technology that people use to get online. A study by iPass and Maravedis Rethink estimates an almost 8-fold increase in the number of WiFi hotspots: from one for every 150 people as of 2016 to one for every 20 people by 20182. If justice delivery is to be citizen-centric, e-courts must choose an Internet access technology that citizens prefer.
The second reason is ease of management. Needless to say, there needs to be an upgrade to the present judicial infrastructure. The government needs to identify and develop the infrastructure that would be required to support the e-court project. Cloud WiFI will play a critical role which is a mature, secure technology that does wonders for geographically distributed institutions such as courts. With Cloud WiFi, network, Courts can easily centralize the policies and roles down to any level of granularity for a nationwide network which includes lawyers, litigants, defendants and even other on-demand participants like Citizen forums and NGOs. By implementing ‘Access Control’ courts can restrict access to sensitive information allowing groups such as Judges, staff, litigants. District Court, High Court and Supreme Court judges could be assigned different privileges. In addition, user friendly e-courts mechanism, which is simple, secured and easily accessible by the common public will encourage litigants to use such facilities in India.
The third reason in favor of secure WiFi has to do with privacy and security. Sensitive data related to cases that are sub-judice can hardly be left to float around in networks not owned and controlled by the courts. With a secure WiFi network, however, courts would have complete ownership and control of the information that flows through the network. The stakes in judicial WiFi are too high to ignore security, and WiFi security is not just about strong passwords. Smart phones, for instance, can easily be used to create rogue WiFi hotspots. WiFi security, therefore, is about ensuring that the environment in which e-Court networks exist is protected from intruders, untrusted WiFi networks and rogue devices that can provide back door entry to Judicial networks, are detected instantaneously and quarantined automatically. Just as Cloud based WiFi technologies exist, WiFi intrusion detection and prevention technologies exist that can create safe, airtight e-courts. It’s important to remember that WiFi security protects not only the WiFi networks but also the other network components and devices that can be compromised using the WiFi route.
WiFi is the most popular and fastest growing internet access technology; it offers easy and flexible information policy management, especially for geographically distributed bodies such as courts; and it ensures network security for the judiciary and privacy for citizens seeking justice. No doubt there will need to be dedicated efforts in the training of personnel to maintain all the e-data within secured environment including maintaining proper records of e-file minute entries, notification, service, summons, warrants, bail orders, order copies, e-filing etc. for ready references. Also, conducting training sessions to familiarise the Judges with the e-courts framework and procedure can give a huge impetus to the successful running of e-courts. Given this landscape, secure WiFi is key to helping e-courts realize their goals of efficient, accessible, and citizen-centric justice delivery.