HOW courts administer and manage their procedures, including hearings, is inextricably linked to delays and backlogs in the Indian judicial system. For example, currently, courts schedule cases manually, which creates many inefficiencies such as unequal distribution of workloads. It also increases the backlog. In most courts, either the court staff or the judges themselves handle the listing of cases. Some district court judges get allocated as many as 200 matters a day.
The existing work allocation system can lead to ineffective hearings. Either the cases get adjourned without hearings or make no significant progress because time runs out. Technology, data analytics and optimisation based on modelling are good ammunition to resolve such challenges.
There is enough evidence from the world over, including India, that the legal-judicial system and health and other forms of public welfare can benefit from such measures.
The law and justice system is not limited to the judiciary and legislature but comprises other agencies and institutions with a critical role in justice delivery. Law enforcement, investigation agencies, government departments, prosecutors, bar associations, court administration, correctional facilities, legal-aid organisations and other associated agencies make up the justice system.
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Interdisciplinary research that draws from operations research (data analytics, modelling, optimisation and simulation), Artificial Intelligence and other technologies can potentially transform the justice system. They can help strengthen and improve the contribution of each component agency and institution.
For example, a public health approach to criminal justice can provide effective solutions for the challenges prison officials confront. It could lower the pressure on the judiciary while ensuring access to justice.