In another step towards digitalization, Chief Justice of India (CJI) D Y Chandrachud on Monday announced the launch of the Electronic Supreme Court Reports (e-SCR) project to provide free access to its 34,000 judgments to lawyers, law students, and the common public.

These verdicts will be available on the apex court website, its mobile app, and on the judgment portal of the National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG), the CJI said at the outset of judicial proceedings on the first working day of 2023.

The CJI, who was sharing the bench with Justice P S Narasimha, wished lawyers on the first working day of the year and then gave the details of the e-SCR projects.

"This is a free service available for lawyers across the country. Young juniors do not have to pay. There is an elastic search facility. We are improving upon the search engine by incorporating the followed, distinguished and incorporated judgements in a few weeks..,"
the CJI said.

He said as of now, the judgments, delivered till January 1, 2023, will be made available.

"I have given a deadline of February 15 for judgments of 2022 also head-noted. With effect from today, all judgements will be placed online within 24 hours. The access will be placed on the mobile app which we had launched and also on the National Judicial Data Grid. There are about 34,000 judgments," the CJI said.

"We are also introducing neutral citations. Delhi and Kerala High Court already have it," Chandrachud said. He said a committee comprising three judges -- Justice Rajiv Shakdher of the Delhi High Court, Justice Raja Vijayaraghavan of the Kerala High Court, and Justice Suraj Govindraj of the Karnataka High Court has been constituted to work on the process of "neutral citations".

Lawyers, while arguing in courts, refer to the reported judgments supporting their matters by using law journals including 'Supreme Court Reports'.

The Electronic Supreme Court Reports (e-SCR) project is an initiative to provide the digital version of the apex court's judgments in the manner as they are reported in the official law report 'Supreme Court Reports'.

A team comprising officials of Judges' Library and Editorial Section worked tirelessly and, within a short span of 15 days, 34,013 judgments were split to create a database suitable for meeting the requirements of the search engine developed by the Supreme Court with the NIC, Pune, the apex court had said in a statement.

"Digitization and scanning of Supreme Court Reports (SCR) from the year 1950 to 2017 and preserving the same in digitized soft copy in the format of PDF (Portable Document Format), assisted the Registry in creating a digital repository in the Supreme Court's reported judgments in soft form,"
the top court had said.

"This is a project which, in essence, endeavours to take a step forward towards fulfilling the objective of digitization of Indian Judiciary and underlines the vision to bring in a positive change for the benefit of all the stakeholders of justice, primarily litigants and members of the Bar as also the High Courts, National Law University, Judicial Academies, etc," the statement had noted.

The Supreme Court has developed a search engine with the help of the National Informatics Centre comprising elastic search technique in the database of e-SCR and the search facility in e-SCR provides for free text search, search within a search, case type and case year search, judge search, year and volume search, and bench strength search options, it said.

With PTI Inputs