sulabh swatchh bharat

Sunday, 16-December-2018

No way to hide from Court Summons Now 

A lady IAS officer develops a software to automatically send and track court summons


What the Law Ministry could not do in decades, a 2009 batch Uttar Pradesh lady IAS officer has done it in less then one month - finding an automated solution to the India’s pendency problem in various courts across the country. Impressed by her software, the High Court in Uttar Pradesh has given a go ahead for its implementation initially in e-Courts and then in its Allahabad and Lucknow benches. 

Developed by Shubhra Saxena, a 2009 batch IAS officer, the software will prove to be a boon in serving summons to parties involved in a legal tangle. Shubhra is a tech graduate from IIT Roorkee, who topped the civil services exam in 2008. Shubhra has named her software ‘Saakshi’Posted as Hardoi District Magistrate, the lady IAS officer gave a presentation to a screening committee of the Allahabad High Court recently. Recognising the utility of the new software, the HC committee has issued directives for its immediate implementation in e-Courts and then in its Allahabad and Lucknow benches.

What prompted Shubhra to develop this software? Usually, bureaucrats prefer to stay away from courts and the legal fraternity but an incident forced Shubhra to develop an automated system which helps judiciary improve its functioning. In 2012, a non-bailable warrant was issued against Shubhra, when she was posted in Bulandshahar. She was shocked when the NBW was slapped on her for failing to appear before the court. But she never received any summon? Inquiries revealed that court summon never reached her due to the negligence of court munshi and police-men engaged in delivery. She had a tough time pleading before the court to convince that she never received any summon and she had no intention to avoid her appearance. Later, she had to get the NBW annulled by High Court.

The lady IAS officer then resolved to overcome this lacuna in the present judicial system by developing an Automated Summon Management System (ASMS). She first studied the judicial mechanism for issuance of summons and its delivery and found that majority of the summons are undelivered due to laxity and non-availability of police personnel deployed to serve court summons.When posted as DM Hardoi, she gave an hour daily to work on the project. Her background as a tech graduate from IIT Roorkee came in handy. She also engaged a software engineer from National Informatics Centre (NIC) to help her in the design. In less than a month, the software was ready. She equipped it with a SMS gateway costing a little over Rs 20,000. 

Once Saakshi was ready, it was time to begin trials. Shubhra discussed the new software with district court authorities and the police chief. They happily agreed. She first tested it with the police department. All information with regard to issuance of summons and pending cases are fed into the software which sends automated SMS and text messages to parties as a reminder for appearing before the court on the date fixed for hearing of their cases.  Not only this, the software also keeps a record of defaulters for their non-appearance and issues them automated warnings.Once the testing was successful in the district of her posting, Shubhra gave a presentation of Saakshi to the Chief Secretary. The Chief Secretary was very much impressed by the efficacy and the utility of the software in legal arena as well as in the police department. 

The state administration also apprised the Allahabad High Court authorities which then called Shubhra to Allahabad for a presentation before a screening committee. It took time foro the screening committee to give her a go ahead for its implementation.The UP Police department which is already reeling under the pressure of staff shortage has also decided to use the software to save its manpower for maintaining law and order.  “The new software will indeed reduce burden on already overburdened police personnel,” says rahul Srivastava, PRO, State Police.Shubhra feels that the software would help in reducing pendency in courts as majority of times summons never reached their destinations in time. It will also leave no room for any manourverings wherein counsels grease palms of court employees who never send summons in time.

Uttar Pradesh will be the first state in the country to implement Saakshi. The Allahabad High Court authorities are making arrangements for the lady IAS officer to make a presentation before the Law Ministry and Supreme Court so that others also reap benefits of this unique software.