The Indian legal press was full of reports last week of the launch of M K Ghosh and Co’s Legal Research and Analytic Services which is bringing a sophisticated set of digital search expertise to finding Indian law. The Times of India’s description will sound familiar to many researchers outside India:
Companies, law firms, lawyers and individuals have to go through a large number of case laws and judicial decisions to identify or retrieve information necessary to support legal decision-making or finding something relevant to their case. Corporates and business houses are also required to know various changing provisions of law, required for their day to day statutory compliance. Similarly, individuals and establishments need to know the latest provisions of law and current decisions and interpretations on issues laid down by the Supreme Court, high courts and tribunals. Orders passed by other courts in the country may also be relevant. Even simple research work done on such subjects can take days or weeks. This may also result in huge expenditure. We have launched this concept to counter these drawbacks. One can simply outsource his legal research job to us and we will use our full-time legal and IT expertise to provide the information. The client will save on time and money in this way.
While it all sounds promising, much more interesting is Indian Kanoon, which is a website that is directly targeted at the (English-speaking) Indian public:
The main problem is that it is too difficult to quickly find the required legal information. One needs to be at the mercy of lawyers even for basic issues in which laws are clear or court judgments have straightened out the issues. There is no easy way for people to seek a second opinion or to educate themselves of the pertinent issues. Not anymore. Sushant Sinha, a doctoral student in Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Michigan, has started a website that allows you to quickly find the relevant law clauses and how they are interpreted by courts.
Its breakthrough is to break legal documents into the smallest possible clauses and then integrate 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.
We shall see…
Tarunabh Khaitan, a lecturer in law at St. Hilda’s College Oxford, says “Indian Kanoon has made Supreme Court cases searchable in a user-friendly fashion that should put some of the subscription sites to shame”.