Former Chief Justice of the Orissa High Court Justice S Muralidhar recently urged all lawyers and judicial officers to embrace technology and support the need for digitising all courts across the country..Speaking at a lecture titled Digitization of Courts – Experiences from the Bench, hosted by the Center for Justice through Technology at Vinayaka Mission's Law School, Justice Muralidhar said that digitisation of court records and a robust e-court system across the country were the need of the hour.“Our concern is that lawyers and law clerks, who can gain the most from the digitization process, have never asked for it, or, have never pushed for it. The initiative has always come from the other side, the judges. In fact, in the Kerala High Court, where some exemplary work on digitizing court records is going on, there have been protests by the Bar and the law clerks. The law clerks were afraid that they will become redundant once all their work was moved online. And now the judiciary is going around convincing them how that is not true,” the former judge said..Justice Muralidhar, who pioneered the digitization of all district courts and the High Court in Odisha, went on to say that he was aware there existed a “technological divide” where not every lawyer is comfortable using technology, and not every lawyer can afford a smart phone or an electronic device.While the push for digitisation was crucial, he had made the conscious decision as Chief Justice of the Orissa High Court to not make e-filing compulsory, he said.“Instead, we went a step ahead and came up with a system of hand holding where all that a lawyer needs to do is bring us the hard copy of his petition. We will scan it, turn it into a soft copy and upload it on the central system, and we will go a step ahead and even train the lawyer at our e-seva kiosk.".The retired judge also said that the computer committee at the Orissa High Court had worked round the clock to ensure that the Chief justice’s Court was completely paperless.“When the first phase of the e-courts project was launched, all judicial officers were given laptops. But many officers ended up never using those laptops, or, passed it down to their children and grandchildren as they did not receive any training on how to use the devices. However, in the Orissa High Court, I used to keep telling everyone this, that when the mobile phones came, no one complained about the lack of training. Now, even someone who has not received any formal education is comfortable using a mobile phone. What I am trying to say is that people do take to technology when it serves their purpose. So, do not resist change. If you resist change, there can be no progress.".Speaking about what contributed to the success of the digitisation programme in Odisha, Justice Muralidhar said it was a result of his personal interest in the subject, the cooperation and financial aid he received from the State government and some very dedicated staff members of the computer committee of the Court.“Time is also a very relevant factor. If a Chief Justice is interested, has a vision, and has a long enough tenure, she or he can bring about a lot of positive changes. However, if a Chief Justice of a particular High Court has a tenure of just two months, or, now a days we have seen CJs having tenures of just one or two days, then what can be done in just two days? During my first year of Chief Justiceship at Odisha, I worked at break-neck speed because, I had no idea for how long was I going to continue as the Chief justice,” Justice Muralidhar said.The judge also said that the judiciary also needed dedicated and exclusive technical support to ensure complete success of the e-courts programme.