Legal Transcriptions are Vital and Must for an Efficient Judicial System in India
“We need to have more transparency and the citizens of India deserve proper access to justice and legal transcription services are a very important addition that is needed in our judiciary,” says Amrish Kilachand while speaking at an event organised by Moneylife Foundation on the importance of legal transcriptions. 
 
Mr Kilachand, a businessman by profession, had filed an intervention application in the Supreme Court to move the court to approve transcription services for all courtrooms in India, similar to what they have in Canada, the US, UK, Canada, Australia and other nations. The original petition, Mr Kilachand had joined as an intervenor, was filed by senior advocate Indira Jaising. Mr Kilachand was represented by Advocate Jamshed Mistry in the Supreme Court, who was also present for the session at Moneylife Foundation.  
 
 
The event started with the presentation of two short videos, which showed how live steaming of court proceedings take place in Canada and more recently on a trial basis at Madurai in Tamil Nadu. 
 
Using these videos, Adv Mistry explained how a live streaming of courtroom proceedings is truly seamless and to the point without any interruption from the recording systems. 
 
 
During his talk, Adv Mistry explained how he was surprised to receive transcript of court proceedings from a Canada court. He said, “We had a two or three hour hearing and in the evening when I met my client, he suddenly pulled out a sheaf of papers. It turns out he had the order sheet and legal transcriptions of the entire proceedings of what had occurred in the court earlier in the day. Everything, including name, date and time.
 
Every single word was recorded. It is beautifully bound and given to you. There it was available in electronic form or in paper, and you can print it out if you wanted.” 
 
 
Comparing this particular transcription to an ordinary copy of the order that you get in a court in India, Adv Mistry explained that in India we only get very basic details - “matter heard on so & so; order passed on so & so”. 
 
“The stenographer in Indian courts takes down only what he or she has been told to take down and not the entire transcription of the case. The Judge reviews it and sometimes you get what you said or what you did not say at the end of the day,” he said. 
 
Furthermore as we file our appeals based on what the Judge has put forward, there is a lot of room for misinterpretation, he added.
 
Mr Kilachand has been a litigant in all manner of court cases for the past almost 22 years and has experienced legal proceedings from the lowest to the highest courts across several states as well as the Supreme Court in India. He explained that the legal system is completely clogged in India with people very rarely going through “final hearings, when everything is stopped by motions that themseleves take 10-15 years”.
 
Elaborating on the problem he explained, “You cannot blame the judges either, because in reality a judge has over 100-150 cases before him. To actually expect him to read this kind of paperwork and come prepared the next day is ridiculous. We also have a system where judges change frequently, so there is no continuity. Counsels also change all the time.”
 
 
It is very difficult to get justice when there such problems in the judicial system. Mr Kilachand presented legal transcriptions as one means to resolve these issues. The primary advantage a legal transcription provides is transparency; it also binds all the parties involved - the litigant, the lawyer and the judge, he added. 
 
He says, “Everyone will have to careful in what they say when each and every word they say is being transcribed. You cannot come next day and say that I did not say this or that. It will inevitably clean up the whole system.” 
 
Even the problem of frivolous litigation will disappear as it will put pressure on the lawyers and litigants when every word said in the courtroom is being recorded, he added.  
 
In India we established court system of a plethora of judges, litigants, advocates, and witnesses appearing on a daily basis and expect that they all carry out their functions effectively while being well acquainted with the rules and regulations of the courtroom. 
 
A video recording of court proceedings, can play a crucial role in creating awareness among everyone involved and would in turn regulate the behaviour of the masses in the profession. It would also undoubtedly benefit in increasing transparency in the judicial system, both Adv Mistry and Mr Kilachand opinioned. 
 
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    COMMENTS

    Ramesh Bajaj

    10 months ago

    Legal Transcription, as Adv Jamshed Mistry says, will be fantastice way forward to get justice. Nobody can say that " I didn't say this...." and get away with it by denying what he has said, because it will all be recorded.
    It is incumbent on us and lawyers, to find and seek the truth, prove the truth, reveal the truth (which will help get justice.)
    Or else, in reality , it is very difficult and will continue to be so.

    Aditya G

    11 months ago

    There's no point comparing us to Canada or United States. It's a reductive argument because Canada doesn't have India's population and a messy legal system (and laws) in the first place. And it's one of the 'least corrupt' countries in the world (well, supposedly). We might as well compare our infrastructure to Germany or China or our financial system to United States or Hong Kong i.e. compare apples and oranges. This whole comparison game doesn't solve any problems because it's a mindset problem more than anything else. Of course, it's a good starting point for introspection, but that's about it.

    Needless, legal transcription could be groundbreaking if implemented, and will spill over to other courts, including NCLT, Consumer Courts, and even verticals such as parliament proceedings, and oh even what happens in a police station. I'm all for best practices that improves systems. Totally.

    Undoubtedly, it is the justice system that needs to be cleaned up more than anything else, and if this happens it'll have a domino effect on the rest of the country. But how do we go about this?

    Sadly, ideas are useless without the right mindset and respect for the rule of law. Moreover, our mindset will take years to change. Just look at our Bankruptcy Law. It ends up in courts anyway. It's either the law is framed so poorly or we just blatantly disregard it and hope courts can solve our problems (which is what crooks love to do). Hilarious. Everything is Kafkaesque.

    Vaibhav Dhoka

    11 months ago

    No doubt judges are overburdened,but that is only tip of iceberg.Judges overall are not accountable and advocates take adjournment and unnecessary prolonge cases , advocates on either side loot litigants.Whole legal process is tedious and made cumbersome.If this transcript is made compulsory it will reduce corruption and speed up system.

    Reclaiming Mumbai’s Open Spaces
    Although it may not seem like it, even with the Metro constructions and other ongoing projects Mumbai still has a lot of open space. It is just not being utilised in an efficient manner. Even with availability of space, Mumbaikars have not been able to enjoy a few basic facilities such as pedestrian safety and well designed footpaths. With this in mind, Moneylife Foundation had invited architect Pranav Naik, founder of Studio Pomegranate to share the successes he has had working on projects for private companies and many other interested parties. 
     
    One such project involved financial services firm Motilal Oswal in improving the open space around their office in Prabhadevi, Mumbai. “They were interested in improving some of their space and get some publicity as well, because they are paying for it and also achieving their goals for Corporate Social Responsibility for tax cuts etc.” said Pranav.
     
    At the most basic level, this project involved improving the pedestrian walkways around the office and placing trees or lights at the appropriate places, essentially maximising the available space. 
     
    Pranav explained that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is happy to be involved in such projects as well because it is in a way free publicity for them as well. The entire process of beautifying and making efficient use of the open space around Motilal Oswal’s office, “involved different parties which included, professional RTI activists, politicians, local mafia and other Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) departments who want to come and extort some sums of money from you anyway.”
     
     
    In his talk, Pranav gave several examples comparing Mumbai’s streets of the past with those today. “The surface of Bombay’s streets was for 100 years paved with limestone from Shahbad. The 21st century however saw the proliferation of the interlocking paver blocks in the city. Good limestone was removed, and replaced with poor quality uneven concrete.” 
     
     
    To solve the issue outside of Motilal Oswal, the limestone was brought back, with a slight change in the format - a 7x7’ size and an increased thickness. According to Pranav, placed on a levelling layer of concrete, it makes the walking surface free of potholes, kinks, and is virtually indestructible. The stone is not treated but is set in with 6mm grooves, 6mm deep. 
     
     
    Speaking on another project which they took up under the Tulsi pipe road in Lower Parel, Mumbai, Pranav reiterated how there was an interested party in this case as well but instead of a company, this time they were the local public. There was also additional interest from the local companies from the area - Phoenix, Lodha, HDFC bank etc.
     
    This particular area is plagued with every kind of establishment on the road with insufficient infrastructure and is over saturated. As expected, pedestrians are most affected by this situation as they have to squeeze through leftover pockets, stumble on uneven or non-existent footpaths. 
     
    Studio Pomegranate started work on this project in March 2016 with a thorough study of the area. A sample count of vehicles, interviews, visual inspections, and measurements were taken at every junction, level change, crossing, and physical divisions. Observations were noted, and solutions brainstormed in conjunction with municipal officers, traffic police, and other stakeholders. 
     
    Pranav explained that “part of the solution calls for increasing pedestrian crossings, making existing crossings safe, accessible, adding public toilets, and dustbins.” Further design strategies made in conjunction with the traffic police include changing some U-turns, tweaking traffic signal locations, and adding traffic-calming measures. Making the space easily walk able, and instilling a sense of safety.
     
    “The idea was, let it be an open space. Let the people do whatever they want,” explained Pranav. Emphasising the benefits, he reiterated how people can now wait, listen to music, play cricket and have a good time all simply because of open spaces. He also stressed that there have been no issues of vandalism in the area. 
     
     
    Shockingly, the cost of doing such projects is well within the budget of the BMC, according to Pranav. He explained, “Mumbai has 2000 kms of road network, that’s 4000 kms of footpath. Assuming the cost the Studio Pomegranate incurred in repairing the footpath in our project, the total cost of fixing all the footpaths in Mumbai would be around Rs6000 crores. This is only 10% of the BMC budget in 10 year’s time.”
     
    In his third example Pranav shared Studio Pomegrante’s work on the Nepean Sea Road. In this area there is a lack of pedestrian infrastructure, leading to confusion, and a dangerous walking environment. The lanes are 4m wide, while cars and buses are all less than 3m wide which leads to inordinate amount of space for vehicles, and a shortage of space for non-motorised users, and pedestrians. 
     
    This area also has BEST bus stops that are poorly designed as they occupy entire footpaths, forcing pedestrians to walk on the road. Further issues in the region were taxi stands not having lanes, and occupying road space as well as vehicles being given priority at all junctions, leading to unsafe crossings for pedestrians, while also being confusing. 
     
    Pranav shared some of the solutions which have been proposed to be implemented at the Nepean sea junction. They are thinking of having sheltered crossings at appropriate locations and moving the BEST bus stop to the middle of the junction. This way, the traffic is streamlined and more space is available for pedestrians. 
     
    Pranav hopes that the work his company is doing is in a way an eye opener for the public and perhaps for the BMC as well, to bring about important changes for the city. 
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    COMMENTS

    S A Narayan

    1 year ago

    Very well done. But the problem in Mumbai will remain with politicos and slumlords cornering spaces and renting them out to hawkers, which is the bane of this city. Sooner or later enroachments will mar the beautiful spaces. I hope I am wrong.

    R V RAU

    1 year ago

    This is ideal for the Municipal Corporation which encourages the concept of Local Community Management to clean your own lanes and beautify your own lanes.

    House taxes should be kept to the bare minimum. There is no point adding to the 50,000 Cr corpus of MCGM.

    Residents of a particular streatch of lanes (off the main roads) should pay private agencies directly to maintain, enhance and "beautify" their locality and lane. This may involve paying the local slumlord for the favour of not taking over or blocking the lane for the slumlords private use.

    Similarly in commercial areas every building should pay private agencies to beautify their corner of he city. This may involve paying off local mafia and the MCGM officials.

    This is the way it operates in many rural areas where the local mafia (politico?) will challenge any NGO that wants to do good locally by asking "What is in it for me" ?

    Nakul Kumar Reddy

    1 year ago

    Iam claiming the open spaces

    Bicycles are the Way Forward for a Healthier and Sustainable Mumbai
    “Even though India is the second largest manufacturer of bicycles in the world, Mumbai is still ranked 97th when it comes to cycling,” said Firoza Suresh, a cycling enthusiast and director of the Smart Commute Foundation (SCF). She was speaking at an event organised by Moneylife Foundation on making utilising Mumbai’s open spaces and making it more cycling friendly. 
     
     
     
    We all know about the health benefits of taking a bicycle to work or for covering short distances. It also an economical and eco-friendly option compared to the traditional 2 or 4 wheeler. But as Firoza explained in her talk, the biggest deterrent for people in adapting to a bicycle for transportation, “unlike running or walking, where you just wear your shoes and travel, for a bicycle you have to purchase or already own the vehicle.”
     
    Firoza, through SCF, has pledged to promote a healthier, greener and happier city by encouraging people to adopt cycling as a means of daily commute. She shared that since it’s inception in 2012, SCF has taken part in various cycling initiatives in the city such as #cycle2work, #mecyclerider and Get Cycloned - The Smart Commute Way. One of their many goals is to convert 50% of a Mumbai’s population to bicycle users by 2030. 
     
    Using herself as an example, Firoza explained that “A bicycle as a vehicle is very unique, it acts as a fitness machine - people who just want to go to nearby locations can ride the bicycle and come back; people use it to commute - cycle to work, I even take it to meetings and conferences.” In fact, she had also come to the event riding her bicycle from Juhu. 
     
     
     
    Firoza is also the bicycle Mayor of Mumbai and there are a total of 41 such mayors in India thus far. This idea of a bicycle mayor comes from a social enterprise from Amsterdam called BYCS, that works to transform cities to make them more environmentally friendly. Using Amsterdam as an example, Firoza explained how the city had completely transformed over a period of 30 years from a car centric model to a bicycling and pedestrian friendly city. She noted, “the change did not happen overnight and in fact involved long term efforts from both the public and the government.”
     
    To achieve the same in Mumbai will require similar sustained efforts from the public. Firoza hopes to increase ridership in Mumbai to 1 lakh by 2023 and in turn force authorities to “build better facilities - cycle stands, tracks, pothole free roads and better urban infrastructure”.
     
     
    “Mumbai is blessed to be a very linear city and the task of converting the population to cycling should not be difficult. Since the last 50-60 years Mumbai has always had the ‘invisible’ cyclists - dabbawalas, istriwalas etc. They have already created an invisible cycling track for us” Firoza explained. 
     
     
    Answering the concerns of many on whether cyclists would be safe travelling on Mumbai’s pothole ridden or traffic congested roads, Firoza said “ I feel cushioned on the road. I don’t feel threatened by a bus driver or a car driver. Morever, there is a certain amount of respect when other drivers see you cycling with a helmet on.”
     
    SCF is currently working with government bodies and cycling communities to establish cycling tracks under existing Metro lines. The idea is to utilise the existing space in the median under a metro as a dedicated bicycle track. Firoza believes this to be a positive step towards making Mumbai more bicycle friendly. 
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    COMMENTS

    Prasanna

    1 year ago

    Pune used to be city of bicycles. In 1970s I would bike all over and around Pune without any difficulty. Today if try to ride a bike, the scooters and mo-bikes do not give right of way. They in fact make your life difficult to cycle. There are no dedicated cycle tracks. These are only for names sake. No one bothers about the cyclists. Its a pity that are politicians and bureaucrats are purposely dumb, deaf and blind to the situation. Our children will have to a pay a heavy price for not being able to cycle and keep the city green and pollution free.

    ramchandran vishwanathan

    1 year ago

    Firoza , Amsterdam has world class transportation . Roads are equally good. We will end up with health hazards of we cycle on such roads in Mumbai besides accidents .
    Hopefully when the metro is operational across all the promised routes and the roads are a tad better we can think of cycling .

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