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Legal Books Versus Legal Database
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Internet boom has given birth to several innovative support systems and services. When we talk about the latter the immediate thought that comes to our mind is shopping, communication and documentation. However, the increasing popularity of internet has also made research an extremely hassle free task. This includes a bouquet of areas such as legal, science, engineering and medicine.
So, how does internet offer a unique platform for legal research? The answer is - legal database. Before we begin to understand its implication in today's compelling times let us first understand the two distinct methods of legal research or information seeking task.
1) Law books published by renowned publishers. These paperbacks are cumbersome to carry and demand immense patience. These are typically voluminous in nature and therefore require time and effort to narrow down the required information. Legal journals and specific collections of court hearings, orders and laws are a subset of above mentioned books. These legal papers are available in multidisciplinary and discipline-specific avatars.
2) Online legal database - As the name suggests, it is a reservoir or a knowledge hub where legal entities such as lawyers, attorneys and even writers spend a lot a time during case hearing. Researching with online or digital information is quick, offers a broad range of references and also provides accurate data. It simply means, that legal entities who would spend days preparing a court hearing can now accomplish the same task in hours. These digital databases are available in the following flavours -
a. Indian Courts Websites
These are corsage of websites of the Supreme Court and all 21 High Courts and their benches in India. Although researching on these online portals is quite a task, it nonetheless provides impressive research material. It offers access to a plethora of subjects, laws and court orders which is actually litigant centric information. On the dynamic front it provides information about latest and past judgements, cause lists and of course case status. For researchers of the academic kind it provides static information such as the history of legal institution in India, constitutional amendments, previous laws and old judgements.
Some of the other features of Indian Courts legal database are mentioned below.
• One of the best information provided by these government websites is cause lists. These are typically upcoming cases for both Supreme Court as well as all the High Courts. This is possible because the Supreme Court of India and its 21 High Courts along with their 10 Benches are technology driven. In short, these are wired to computer servers and therefore as soon as the cause lists are generated it becomes live on their website.
• India Code Information System which offers Central Acts of Parliament right from 1834 onwards.
• Case status provides the ongoing position of a particular case vis-à-vis verdict. This information can be fetched from the Indian court website. One needs to understand that every state has its own online presence in terms of legal information, and therefore it also boasts a unique legal database.
b. Paid Digital Database
Books have almost lost its glamour. They have become extinct. This has forced some of the legal entities and publishers to join hands and create private legal digital database that provides amazing research capabilities. However, these are paid versions and therefore individuals and law firms have to become members to gain access. Some of these databases have compelling features such as -
. It provides judgments from across the states, irrespective of its subject, and that too for all the courts and even Supreme Court.
. Judicial business orders or orders of tribunals.
. Various bills passed, suggested or redefined.
. Central and State Acts reservoir for easy reference.
. Notifications, ordinances and circulars issued by various legal and government bodies including courts.
. Committee reports which these days are becoming a benchmark for high profile cases.
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