Paperless Courts

From Justice Definitions Project

What is a Paperless Court?

  • Paperless courts signify the transition from conventional paper-based record-keeping to a digital framework. This paradigm shift involves the electronic storage and management of documents, case files, evidence, and court proceedings, replacing reliance on physical documentation.[1]
  • The expansion of eFiling significantly streamlines the document submission process, reducing both time consumption and the likelihood of human errors. Automated document verification also curtails the creation of new paper records.[2]
  • During proceedings, stenographers transcribe depositions directly onto computers. Judges and legal representatives gain access to draft depositions on their screens. Upon approval, the Judge digitally signs the deposition, which is then uploaded and appended to the respective case file.[3]
  • The e-Diary feature empowers account holders to proficiently oversee their case portfolios, obtaining access to comprehensive information including online case statuses, interim rulings, and final judgments.[4] Additionally, governmental entities are actively developing the Court Cases Monitoring System (CCMS) to effectively monitor pending cases within the Supreme Court.[5]
  • To ensure efficiency, identified case records for specific courts undergo meticulous scanning and indexing, facilitating their storage within a master file server (DMS). These digitized records are linked to an electronic cause-list, seamlessly integrating with the court's computer system. Clicking on a case number triggers an automatic retrieval of the pertinent electronic case record.[6]

Mapping the Developments

  • The Supreme Court took initial steps toward going paperless by introducing large tablet computers in five courts. These tablets, functioning as both writing pads and file repositories, displayed cases listed for the first hearing. They were placed on tables before the benches of the five senior-most judges, featuring big, touchscreen interfaces.[7]
  • The e-Courts Phase-III in India aims for digital, online, and paperless courts by digitizing all court records, including legacy ones. It's about making e-Filing and e-Payments universally available across all court complexes. This phase also introduces smart systems for data-driven decisions by judges and registries in scheduling and prioritizing cases. Ultimately, it strives for a unified tech platform, offering a seamless, paperless link between courts, litigants, and stakeholders.[8]
  • The paperless e-court at Hyderabad High Court reduces paper use by digitizing case records. It introduces an electronic case list for judges to make digital notes, syncing with the database. Advocates, judges, and litigants can file records digitally, automatically updating the Court Display Board and sending SMS alerts.[9]
  • Kerala High Court launched India's first paperless court. E-filed cases are processed electronically, offering hybrid hearings and electronic delivery of orders/judgments. Stakeholders manage cases via individual dashboards, enabling remote access and updates from anywhere.[10]
  • Punjab & Haryana High Court introduced a Case Management System that acts as an e-diary for advocates, organizing cases and providing essential details like hearing dates and case statuses. A new status inquiry system keeps lawyers informed about case progress from filing to final decisions. The E-Inspection Cell in the High Court enables file inspections through the Data Management System, avoiding physical file movement. Advocate-specific cause lists improve bar efficiency, and an e-summon and e-docket system serves summonses via email to opposing parties.[11]
  • Supreme Court Portal for Assistance in Court Efficiency (SUPACE) is a tool for judges in Bombay and Delhi High Courts handling criminal matters. It collects and presents case-relevant facts and laws, aiding decision-making without making decisions itself. Customized results save time, reducing case delays and backlog. It streamlines access to justice via AI, making service delivery transparent and cost-effective.[12]
  • In Odisha, fifty paperless courts in twenty-three districts promise transparent, swift justice delivery through efficient file handling, immediate record access, and faster document retrieval, while drastically reducing paper wastage for environmental sustainability.[13]
  • Few of the Supreme Court courtrooms feature big screens for lawyers on video calls, along with a 120-inch display for judges. They've also introduced document viewer tech for easy file access, visible on both lawyers' screens and the larger display. Pop-up screens for judges will replace physical copies of documents, and a digital library will replace law-related books.[14]
  • SCI Interact is an in-house software facilitating the digitization and access of case files, documents, and records for paperless courts. It empowers judges, registrars, law clerks, court masters, and registry officials to access, annotate, bookmark, and personalize notes on case files through the Supreme Court Intranet and MPLS-VPN at judges' residential offices with restricted file access.[15]

International Experience

  • European Union

The European Case Law Identifier (ECLI), introduced by the EU Council of Ministers, standardizes case law metadata for easier retrieval. It prompts courts to seek similar cases across EU nations, aiding legal clarity. Despite collaboration challenges, since its 2010 adoption, the project has progressed.[16] The EU is promoting paperless courts through initiatives like e-CODEX and the European e-Justice Portal, encouraging digital filing, case management, and signatures.[17] It aims to modernize systems, improve access to justice, and streamline processes across member states.

  • United States of America

The U.S. Supreme Court Database (SCDB) classifies every Justice vote over five decades. It serves various communities and was recently used by computer scientists to predict case outcomes. A comparable database for the Indian Judiciary could help alleviate case backlogs.[18] The US District Court of Arizona adopted the Electronic Case Filing (ECF) system in 2005, allowing online document storage and filings. Its benefits include immediate, web-based access to case details for all involved, simultaneous case file review, remote filing for attorneys, 24/7 accessibility enhancing attorney-client interactions, automatic docket updates, and secure, paperless document storage.[19]

  • United Kingdom

The UK's initiatives, such as the HMCTS Reform Programme and projects like the Digital Case System and Common Platform, are driving the shift towards paperless courts.[20][21] These efforts enable electronic case filing, digital management, and evidence submission, significantly reducing reliance on paper while enhancing accessibility and efficiency within the legal system.

  • Other Notable Initiatives

Brazil's Supreme Court, handling a caseload comparable to India's, has managed over 1.5 million cases since 1988, primarily through appeals, overseen by its eleven Justices. The Supremo 2.0 project seeks to revolutionize case visualization, aiming for enhanced accessibility and interactivity.[22] Meanwhile, Singapore's Integrated Case Management System consolidates diverse court functions—ranging from case management to e-filing and scheduling—into a unified platform.[23] In Canada, multiple provinces are actively digitizing court procedures, adopting electronic filing systems, enabling online access to court documents, and incorporating video conferencing for specific hearings.[24]

Research that engages with Paperless Courts

  • The National Center for State Courts has published a Working Paper, namely, 'Going Paperless in a Consolidated Limited Jurisdiction Court: Feasible or Not?'. The research aimed to explore the viability of an electronic paperless court records system and learn from other courts already using such systems. It assessed benefits and drawbacks across access, savings, security, and environmental impact.
  • The article 'Establish a Paperless Court System in India to Ensure Speedy Resolution of Cases' written by Dr. Anit Mukherjee, explores India's move towards a paperless court system, led by the Integrated Case Management Information System, is constrained, mostly confined to the Supreme Court. Challenges persist due to entrenched paper reliance and a massive backlog of cases, impacting the pursuit of swift justice for millions awaiting resolution.
  • The Indian Supreme Court's ‘Indian Judiciary: Annual Report 2020-21’ outlined the judiciary's achievements, initiatives, and advancements during that period. It likely covered significant judgments, technological upgrades, administrative changes, and efforts to enhance access to justice.
  • The research paper, namely ‘ICT in Indian Court: Challenges & Solution’, explores nuances such as extracting information from various agencies for court cases and how e-courts, a technology-driven approach, offer a solution to this backlog, potentially revolutionizing the current paper-heavy system.

Similar Terms but Different Meanings

  • e-Courts

The eCourts Project, born from the 2005 ICT policy, led by the Supreme Court's eCommittee, aimed to modernize India's judiciary through technology. Funded by the Department of Justice, it focuses on nationwide District Court modernization, emphasizing citizen-centric services, decision support systems, transparent information access, and improved judicial productivity for an affordable, accessible, and transparent justice system.

  • Digital Courts

Digital Court is a foundational digital infrastructure for the law and justice sector; ideally, it functions as a natively digital platform through which judicial services may be delivered. Establishing a digital court involves not just building a technical platform, but also re-engineering administrative processes to: (i) enhance access to justice, (ii) boost existing systemic capacity, and (iii) improve the efficiency of the overall judicial administration system.

  • Virtual Courts

A virtual court is an arrangement in which judicial processes are carried out online via digital technology and channels of communication. The judges, counsel, litigants, and other participants can participate in court procedures without personally being present in a courtroom by using video conferencing, electronic file management, and other online methods.

Way Forward

Paperless courts simplify document management, evidence handling, and legal proceedings through eFiling, automated verification, and improved e-Diaries. The e-Courts Phase-III and localized implementations in Hyderabad, Kerala, Punjab & Haryana, and Odisha demonstrate efforts to digitize records, improve remote access, and improve case management in India. Globally, initiatives like the European Union's ECLI and e-CODEX, the US's Electronic Case Filing system, the UK's HMCTS Reform Programme, and Brazil, Singapore, and Canada's innovations demonstrate a global push for legal systems to be more efficient, accessible, and tech-driven.


  1. First Paperless Court Of Judicature At Hyderabad: Transforming The Judicial Process Through ICT. <>
  2. Cabinet approves eCourts Phase III for 4 years. <>
  3. Rishi Prakash, T. Mohanty, Ramji Gupta & Vinay Jain, 'ICT in Indian Court: Challenges & Solution', 2(1) IJIC (2011). <>
  4. All decided cases in Punjab and Haryana HC digitized; e-Filing and e-Diary software prepared, LiveLaw (5 April 2016). <>
  5. Govt issues guidelines on court cases, Tribune News Service (16 July 2014). <>
  6. Supra note 1.
  7. SC takes first steps towards paperless court proceedings, Times of India (4 July 2017). <>
  8. Supra note 2.
  9. Supra note 1.
  10. e-initiatives of the High Court of Kerala. <>
  11. <>
  12. CJI launches top court’s AI-driven research portal, Indian Express (7 April 2021). <>
  13. <>
  14. Pop-up screens for judges, digital library: Supreme Court to go paperless from July, India Today (13 June 2023). <>
  15. Indian Judiciary: Annual Report 2020-21. <>
  16. ECLI: European Case Law Identifier, The Law Bod Blog (9 May 2011). <>
  17. European Justice Portal and e-CODEX <>
  18. Connecting Data with the Supreme Court Database (SCDB) and Caselaw Access Project, Library Innovation Lab - Harvard University (25 February 2020). <>
  19. <>
  20. The HMCTS Reform Programme <>
  21. Use of the Crown Court Digital Case System & Common Platform, The Bar Council - Ethics Committee (March 2018). <>
  22. Lucas E. Resck, Jean R. Ponciano, Luis G. Nonato, Exploring and Inferring Precedent Citations in Legal Documents, IEEE. <>
  23. Integrated Case Management System (ICMS) <>
  24. Ontario spending $166M to move some legal services online, CBC News (Canada, 18 July 2023). <>
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