In the knowledge economy, there are several barriers for citizens and members from the legal fraternity in accessing statutory and case laws. While government departments and courts publish judgments on their respective websites, they are not user-friendly. Their interfaces replicate the library world by requiring searching for judgments by petitioner, respondent, case number. While lawyers are often accustomed to using these interfaces and terms, it acts as a huge barrier to common people. ‘Captchas’, further restrict accessibility to visually impaired citizens. As a result, only extremely savvy citizens or legal professionals/ universities that have access to proprietary and expensive services are able to access reliable reproductions of statutory and case laws.
IndianKanoon is democratizing access to Indian judgements through its free and user-centric search engine. Founded by Sushant Sinha, its simple and effective search engine allows users to use terms familiar to them for search and find results. It also interlinks case laws and judgments.
IndianKanoon’s appeal to citizens, researchers, and lawyers is evidenced by the fact that it has over 3 million users per month. The relevance of the free and open platform is also reflected in the Alexa Rankings of websites that show that IndianKanoon ranks at 704 in India and at 10,353 globally. The demographic of users is fairly wide, from judges to citizens. It runs its servers mostly on free and open source software and has contributed much to the development of the software.
IndianKanoon is acting as a disruptive force to proprietary models of information and data in the legal industry. By making access open and free, it is challenging the models of well-established tools like SCC Online and Manupatra.