High Court websites that need an Overhaul
We continue our series on high court websites and how they could do better in disseminating the treasure trove of information they hold. In this article, we talk about the high court websites which have missing orders/judgements, are difficult to use, and provide little or no information about the events that occurred in a case’s lifecycle.
Access to case law is intrinsic to ensuring that the law of the land is understood and followed. In our earlier post, we covered the best High Court websites in India. The evaluation was based on usability, ease of access to information, and completeness and transparency of information.
Let’s look at the high court websites, which need significant improvement.
Chhattisgarh High Court
Until a few days ago, no case information could be accessed on the site. However, as of today, we could see that case status information is available which might suggest that the website is under maintenance. Cases can be searched through multiple points of information – case type, lawyers, judges, party names and date of judgement. However, the court judgements remain entirely inaccessible.
What’s not so good: The case information encompassing case status, daily orders and judgements is spread over three separate links. While the speed and interface is decent, the multi-point access makes the process cumbersome and time-consuming. This site uses pop-ups, which in present times are mostly blocked, as a result users may miss getting some information.
What could be fixed quickly: Currently, no case judgement can be accessed. The case status page shows a matter as disposed, however, judgement cannot be found for the same. This is not a one-off incident, as we went through at least fifty disposed cases, trying to find their judgements with no luck.
Moreover, the site use CAPTCHA, which in our opinion is unnecessary. Also, the CAPTCHA is only visual and an accessibility problem.
CAPTCHA is also present in the High Courts of Allahabad, Gauhati, Tripura, Manipur and Patna.
Link: Chhattisgarh High Court
Meghalaya High Court
This site was developed in 2013, a time when user experience design was already in vogue. It could have been amongst the better websites if some of those principles were followed but instead finds itself in this list.
What’s not so good: Case Status search is missing, this means that there is no way to identify whether a case is pending or disposed, without going to the judgement site and searching if a final judgement has been passed in the matter. The site itself does not host the database of its cases, directing the user to lobis.nic.in. The reliability of data is uncertain. A judgement is available through party name search, but not available when the case is searched using the case number.
What could be fixed quickly: Search results only display case numbers, party names and date of judgement. It would be nice to have information such as daily orders, date of filing, date of hearing on the search results page itself.
Link: Meghalaya High Court
Madras & Kerala High Courts
The search feature on the websites is difficult to use and unreliable. A search on a case number, displays orders of all case types, which number more than 100 results at times.
What’s not so good: The information is available on three links, one each for judgements, daily orders and case status (for Kerala, there are two links). Accessing daily orders (for Madras) is painful, as six separate bits of information are required to access them (order type, order number, order year, main case type, main case number and main case year). The issue of unreliable data is prevalent, with missing judgements for disposed cases.
What could be fixed quickly: A case type filter can make accessing these sites a much better experience. Similarly, a way to differentiate between the Madurai and Madras bench orders will also help users access the right judgement quickly.
Calcutta High Court
Calcutta is a metro city with a large inflow of cases which naturally attracts many visitors to the site. Yet, one cannot depend upon its data which contains major gaps.
What’s not so good: Calcutta High Court uses courtnic.nic.in for its case status search and judis.nic for its judgement search.
What could be fixed quickly: It takes you at least five clicks from your search query to the case status or judgement on either sites. Please reduce the clicks and help cure our finger fatigue.
Link: Calcutta High Court
These High Courts would do well by emulating the Supreme Court website, which provides detailed case information such as lower court details, applications, connected matters, listed hearings, daily orders etc. and does not create barriers to accessing case orders or information such as CAPTCHA.
We shall keep an eye on these websites for any signs of improvement and will be updating changes in the status quo as and when it occurs.
(Written, on behalf of Riverus, by Ankit Sinha, Product Counsel at Riverus)