Would you have imagined 20 years ago that courts would use a mobile application called ‘WhatsApp’ to deliver a summon? We’d guess not!
Technology is now becoming an all-encompassing tool venturing into our lives like it has been around forever! While technology has well evaded all other industries, the Legal sector in India still remains to be unchartered territory. To keep up with the changing scenario, our government is making deliberate efforts in digitalizing governance in order to reach out to the masses efficiently and effectively.
Slowly, steadily and discreetly, the government has shown reliance on technology for law enforcement. Ironically, most of us aren’t aware of the technological advancements the Indian Government has positioned in the Legal System. With the Legal Tech Fair, 2017, one of our agendas is to ensure that we bring all such developments to the forefront, a few of them being -
Information Technology Act, 2000- A single legislation that regulates and manages all technical aspects related to crime is the IT Act. As millennials started socialising through a series of web, comprehensive legislation came into existence that caters to the changing trends. Such acknowledgement from the government showed a progressive step towards a digital ecosystem.
Evidentiary value- Gone are the days when a person’s statement and traditional evidence like circumstantial clues, the weapon used in a crime, etc., were considered to be the only cue to establish the commission of a crime. Advancement in technology has led the courts to consider virtual evidence such as CCTV video footage, digital photographs, chat records, e-mails, audio recordings, etc. as valid and acceptable forms of evidence.
E- Filing- Its the wearer that knows where the shoe pinches! We all know at least one person who has suffered maltreatment from the law enforcement agencies- be it refusal of filing a complaint or inaction after registering the same. Besides, many of us would rather refrain from taking legal action against a wrongdoer- fearing the harassment that one is subjected to. To tackle this menace, a digitalized manner of registering complaints and creating accountability was the need of the hour. Filing an FIR, a civil case, an RTI application, consumer grievance, application for document verification, licensing, etc., increased accountability of the authorities while saving a lot of hassle for a common man. Courts also provide regular case status updates through their web portals. Thereby, technology created efficiency in the traditional system where red-tapism used to be the norm.
Crime investigation- Police investigation is susceptible to innumerable errors and loopholes. To overcome that, the integration of technology within the policing system created a strong and close-knit network between police stations located in different states. Tracking a criminal’s record, sharing information of a suspect with different police station branches, having updated records of habitual offenders on a single database, using GPS navigation system, mobile location and IP address, forensic analysis etc., to track a criminal are some of the many ways through which technology has facilitated the investigation.
Harnessing crime- Increased flouting of traffic rules led to increased road mishaps, consequentially the fine for breaking a traffic rule also increased. But, one is not expected to carry ₹5000 at all times. Technology stepped in- no cash to pay fine, no worries- the traffic police started handing over “e-challans”, enabling an offender to pay fine through credit or debit card. Therefore, leaving no room for escape for violation of traffic rules. Other than this scheme, portable “walkie-talkies” used by police also help in nabbing a criminal on the run! Real-time information sensors help a great deal in curbing crime.
The Government has deliberately amplified dependence on technology by aiding the judiciary, police force and other law-enforcement agencies through dedicated web-portals and mobile applications. G2C and C2G channels have eliminated barriers in communication and have enabled the authorities to be in touch with the state of affairs at grass-root level. Digital highways have paved a way to hyper connect citizens to the government.
Room for improvement
The road towards technology-enabled law enforcement might be bumpy! A colossal fragment of e-governance programme requires centralised efforts to blend technology in government's machinery. Formulating new laws that enable an overall incorporation of already existing as well as new technology, is the need of the hour.
Currently, the Information Technology Act, 2000 is the sole legislation dealing with electronic commercial activity and other genres of merchandising. Amendments are made to the prevailing laws which, however, are inadequate to cope up with digital innovations. Auxiliary endeavours to assimilate technology in law are required.
Furthermore, the Government requires to initiate supplementary campaigns for generating additional awareness and procuring involvement from masses. Technological dependence ought to be strategically proliferated with Herculean safety agendas and diligent judicial partaking.