Challenges for Free Access to Law in a Multi-Jurisdictional Developing Country: Building the Legal Information Institute of India

AuthorRanbir Singh,Graham Greenleaf,VC Vivekanandan,Philip Chung,Andrew Mowbray
Publication Date01 June 2013
DOI10.1177/2277401720130105
Date01 June 2013
SubjectArticle
CHALLENGES FOR FREE ACCESS TO LAW
IN A MULTI-JURISDICTIONAL DEVELOPING
COUNTRY: BUILDING THE
LEGAL INFORMATION INSTITUTE
OF INDIA
A B C
Graham Greenleaf, VC Vivekanandan, Philip Chung,
D E
Ranbir Singh and Andrew Mowbray
This article analyses the complexities involved in providing free
public online access to the 'public legal information' of the Indian
legal system. It starts with some of the causes of the complexity of
Indian legal information, then describes the considerable progress
that has been made previously in the provision of free access to
some types of legal information, and analyses why the result is still
below international standards. The article then presents a project
– the Legal Information Institute of India (LII of India) that
attempts to build on, enhance and consolidate much of the good
work that has already been done by Indian government
organisations and NGOs, to develop free access to legal
information in India, and to overcome many of the deficiencies
identified in the previous section. The considerable remaining
challenges for the creation of a world-standard and sustainable
A Graham Greenleaf, Professor of Law D Information Systems, University of New South
Wales.
B Dr.V.C.Vivekanandan, Ministry of HRD IP Chair Professor, NALSAR University of Law,
Hyderabad.
C Philip Chung, Lecturer in Law, University of Technology, Sydney and Conjoint Lecturer in
Law, UNSW.
D Prof. (Dr.) Ranbir Singh, Vice-Chancellor, National Law University, Delhi.
E Andrew Mowbray, Professor of Law D Computer Science at the University of Technology,
Sydney.
This article first appeared in 8(3) SCRIPTed 292 (2011). The assistance of Rajan Sharma,
system developer for LII of India at AustLII, Jill Matthews, Indexer, prior AustLII staff, and
SCRIPTed editors and referees is gratefully acknowledged. An earlier version of this article
was presented at the Law via the Internet Conference, University of Hong Kong, 2011. The
article was completed while Graham Greenleaf was a Visiting Fellow at the SCRIPT/AHRC
Law and Technology Centre, University of Edinburgh. The LII of India has been assisted by
an AusAID PSLP (Public Sector Linkages Program) grant concerning access to South Asian
legal information, and from an ARC (Australian Research Council) LIEF grant concerning
CommonLII
system are then outlined, and steps are proposed to address them.
The extent to which this collaborative project might be a model for
development of free access to legal information in other countries
is considered. The future of LII of India depends on a number of
factors, including the establishment of an effective technical team
and servers in India, an Indian-based governance structure,
collaboration with organisations in India with similar goals,
establishment of local financial sustainability, and continuing
technical support from AustLII during the establishment phase.
The article discusses these challenges and highlights difficulties in
extending development at the State level, the longer term
challenges of providing information in languages other than
English, and the legal issues surrounding that task.
INTRODUCTION ....................................................................................... 65
I. COMPLEXITY OF THE INDIAN LEGAL AND SOCIAL CONTEXT ........... 65
A. A Complex, Sophisticated Legal System and a
Litigious Society ............................................................................... 66
B. A 'Monitory Democracy'....................................................................67
C. Constitutional Right to Information and
Bureaucratic Lag ...............................................................................68
D. 'Auntie English' and the Complexity of Language Issues ................ 69
E. The Need For Free Access to Indian Legal Information................... 71
II. THE STATE OF ACCESS TO INDIAN LEGAL INFORMATION
UP TO 2010 .............................................................................................. 71
A. Legislation ........................................................................................ 72
B. Case Law ...........................................................................................73
C. Treaties, Scholarship, and Law Reform .......................................... 74
D. The Lack of Comprehensive Search Facilities ................................ 75
III. BUILDING THE LII OF INDIA AFTER ONE YEAR (2011) ........................ 75
A. Background: The Free Access to Law Movement
and Austlii ........................................................................................ 76
B. Formation of LII of India (2007-11) ................................................ 76
C. Motivations of the Indian Partners ................................................... 77
D. The LII of India Website and its Launches ....................................... 78
E. Content Development of the 'Five Pillars' in Stage One ...................79
F. Design Considerations ...................................................................... 82
G. Technical Facilities ...........................................................................84
H. Usage ................................................................................................ 85
IV. FUTURE PLANS AND CHALLENGES ........................................................ 86
A. Content Development: Stage Two .................................................... 86
B. Collaborations .................................................................................. 89
C. Languages other than English .......................................................... 89
D. Sustainability and Governance ......................................................... 91
CONCLUSIONS ..........................................................................................92
A. One Model for Assisting LII Development? .................................... 92
B. A Necessary Element in India's 'Monitory Democracy'? ..................93
64 Journal of National Law University, Delhi [Vol. 1

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