Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Launch of Indian Kanoon-Online Resource for Indian Court Decisions

A vibrant computer science student at the Univ of Michigan, Sushant, recently launched "Indian Kanoon", a fabulous online resource for Indian judgments. This valuable research tool will go a long way towards ensuring better access to the court's judgments by the general public and more robust public participation.

Indian Kanoon breaks law documents into smallest possible clause and by integrating law/statutes with court judgments. A tight integration of court judgments with laws and with themselves allows automatic determination of the most relevant clauses and court judgments.

Indian Kanoon sources data from indiacode.nic.in and all supreme court judgments from judis.nic.in, and crawls these sites for updates. I reproduce extracts of this service from the "about us" page.

"India prides herself as the largest democracy in the world. There are three broad pillars of Indian democracy: the legislatures who make laws, the executives who enforce laws and the judiciary that interprets laws. The laws regulate a number of activities like criminal offense, civil cases, taxation, trade, social welfare, education and labor rights.

Even when laws empower citizens in a large number of ways, a significant fraction of the population is completely ignorant of their rights and privileges. As a result, common people are afraid of going to police and rarely go to court to seek justice. People continue to live under fear of unknown laws and a corrupt police.

A number of attempts have been made to bring the knowledge of law to the common people. The Government of India took active efforts to present all laws along with their amendments at indiacode.nic.in and all court judgments at judis.nic.in. Similar efforts have been taken up by other privately owned websites like vakilno1.com and laws4india.com

While it is commendable to make law documents available to common people, it is still quite difficult for common people to easily find the required information. The first problem is that acts are very large and in most scenarios just a few section of laws are applicable. Finding most applicable sections from hundreds of pages of law documents is too daunting for common people. Secondly, laws are often vague and one needs to see how they have been interpreted by the judicial courts. Currently, the laws and judgments are separately maintained and to find judgments that interpret certain law clauses is difficult.

In order to remove the above two structural problems, Indian Kanoon is started. It achieves them by breaking law documents into smallest possible clause and by integrating law/statutes with court judgments. A tight integration of court judgments with laws and with themselves allows automatic determination of the most relevant clauses and court judgments. Hope Indian Kanoon helps you in your search for Indian laws and their interpretations."

Well done Sushant!! We need more people like you.
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