At the helm of the Bar Council Election case (i.e. Ajayinder Sangwan versus Bar Council) before the Supreme Court, I felt annoyed many times as the orders of Supreme Court were flawed. The Election relief, after a long, strong and tactical court fight, in the form of elections of all the Bar Councils in India, certainly provides rush to my adrenaline.
Now that the elections of bar councils of all states have been announced, the two gravely pinching situations, I would feel to address is the voting & counting process adopted for these elections.
Lawyers are one of the most hard-working professionals and end up working till late in the night almost on a regular basis. With so many pending cases in Indian courts, our duty to the courts and clients becomes highly demanding as well exhaustive. During the last two decades, Technology has given big boost to the quality of legal services and the young ones have proved to be best suited to the changing times. The biggest boost for lawyers came with the launch of various research tools like SCC Online, Manupatra etc., these have substantially reduced the time lag in research work.
I, being open minded to technology, adopted the latest technologies of the times and saved substantial time for doing other activities, while also being best at my work. My Mantra being – by using technology, we would not only speed up our work but also enjoy a better life with less working hours. I play with my kids, take proper care of my family, involve in sports activities & social works. This good balance is provided by the effective use of technology, which my seniors in the profession must have missed due to nature of lawyers’ work.
Today, the whole legal fraternity is talking about Bar Council Elections, these would be conducted across the country by end of March’ 2018. With latest Supreme Court judgment, there is no way that elections could be postponed any further. But do we know that result of most of these elections would not be out till end of Jun-Sep, because vote counting takes 3-6 months at various States!!
In today’s world of technology does it make sense to spend 3-6 months of precious time of advocates, who stand in election and their friends who help them in the election. Does it make sense to have 3-6 months of policy paralysis because of election counting?
It would be interesting to cite that travelling to Bangalore for a case, I bumped into Mr. Neeraj Gutgutia, CEO of Right2Vote Infotech Private Limited. I was thrilled to know that the company has built mobile based voting platform that helps to manage election completely in online environment without need to create any booth or requirement of physical counting. I was informed that they have 7 patent filings and they also provide the option of Aadhaar based authentication. If lawyers would not be keen on Aadhaar, then simple Mobile OTP based voter verification can be done, similar to mobile banking. I must sum up the key benefits of such a system, which I understood from my subsequent research on this aspect, and these are as follows:
1. Ease of voting: Our fellow lawyers would be able to vote directly from their mobile. They would not have to stand in queue or travel to bar council office / court to vote. This will save time for each and every lawyer.
2. Higher voting percentage: As lawyers would be able to vote from anywhere and anytime, directly from their mobile, the voting percentage would be substantially higher. Lawyers who are busy, travelling, not well, not willing to stand in a queue, all would be able to participate. This should take the voting percentage to almost 100% from the current less than 50%.
3. Cost, time and effort saving: As there is no need to create booths across the country and total voting happens without manual intervention, there is huge saving in cost, time and effort. For instance, Right2Vote guarantees saving of minimum 90% cost, minimum 90% time and minimum 90% human effort.
4. Security: Due to end to end encryption, mobile OTP based authentication, Aadhaar based double authentication and other advanced and patented features, Right2Vote claimed minimum 10 times more secured voting compared to offline voting.
5. Immediate results: The biggest advantage of this system is that result would come within few minutes of close of voting. Right now, it takes more than 3 months of counting in state like Maharashtra and more than 6 months for counting in state like Uttar Pradesh. This is due to unique Single Transferable Vote (STV) system of voting used in Bar council election. I found that Right2Vote has patented technology to do the STV type counting automatically without any human intervention and instantly as soon as the voting close. They are already providing the same technology to Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI), the body that regulates all the Chartered Accountants in India.
Bar Councils Elections are not far off now, and people might not be willing to make such major technology change on short notice. But this is the time to think about it. Once the elections are over, we should not forget about need to Technology Upgrade in elections. Companies like Right2Vote etc., which have got their system tested and certified by top technology companies and already working with elections commissions of various states, should be used to improve the Voting and Counting processes at Bar Council Elections.
Members of bar councils cannot afford to waste months of precious time of our fellow lawyers, just because we are still stuck with old age practices. It’s time that we lawyers adopt technology and do not appear technologically challenged to rest of the world.
The author MR. VIVEK NARAYAN SHARMA
is an Advocate-on-Record of the Supreme Court of India.
VIVEK has successfully filed several important PILs for Welfare of Society like Delhi Government’s illegal Power Subsidy (2013); Corruption in Censor Board (2011-12); Foreign Adoption (2012); argued PIL in Nirbhaya Gang Rape case (2013) & gave valuable suggestions to Govt. seeking change in JJ Act and paved way for trial of juvenile under IPC in serious crimes. Vivek has filed PILs i.e. Demonetization case (2016) & Homebuyers case (2017) before Supreme Court. In Demonetisation case, Vivek sought cushion, comfort, ease and welfare of general public during the demonetization process and gave important suggestions to the erstwhile Attorney General. These suggestions were implemented by Govt. VIVEK is also National Advisor to National Youth Awardees Federation of India (NYAFI). VIVEK aims to work for social welfare and to eliminate discrimination among gender, classes and religions and is a known philanthropist and social reformer.)
DISCLAIMER: This article was prepared or accomplished by MR. VIVEK NARAYAN SHARMA in his personal capacity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the views of the www.IndiaOnline.in Network.