India's 2011 TR35: Top Innovators Under 35
Sushant Sinha, 30
A search engine for Indian laws and court judgments
Sushant Sinha has developed Indian Kanoon, a search engine of Indian law. The portal has been designed to provide the most relevant Indian laws and court judgments in response to a query. It enables people to quickly determine the standing law of the land on any issue and empowers them to seek justice. The website has gained quick attention and is used by roughly half a million unique visitors and has more than two million page views every month.
With dual degree in computer science and engineering from Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, and PhD in the same discipline from University of Michigan, Sinha felt the need to generate awareness of laws among the citizens of India. In May 2007, he started developing the portal and finally launched it on 4 January 2008.
"Even when laws empower citizens in a large number of ways, a significant fraction of the population is completely ignorant of their rights and privileges. As a result, common people are afraid of going to the police and rarely go to court to seek justice. People continue to live under the fear of unknown laws and a corrupt police. I started the project as a way to enrich court judgments by linking them with laws and other references. The linking turned out to be so useful that I started building a search engine for Indian law. Indian Kanoon makes it simpler for people to access information on any law or judgment," explains Sinha. He currently works in the Document Processing Team at Yahoo! India.
Even though there are a number of government initiatives to present all laws at indiacode.nic.in and all court judgments at judis.nic.in, it is quite difficult for the common man to easily find the required information or even to decipher it. The legal acts are large and in most scenarios only a few sections of laws are applicable. Finding most applicable sections from hundreds of pages of law documents is a daunting task for anyone except lawyers. Moreover, laws are often vague and to find judgments that interpret certain law clauses is again very difficult.
Sinha's Indian Kanoon is a free search engine for Indian law that breaks law documents into smallest possible clauses and integrates law/statutes with court judgments. This tight integration of court judgments with laws allows automatic determination of the most relevant clauses and court judgments in India.
Presently the Indian Kanoon hosts over 1.2 million documents. It is integrated with the Supreme Court of India, 22 High Courts, and 17 Tribunals to provide a real-time fresh judgments to the users. Sinha is now working on integrating the online channel further with all state laws and with different rules formed by government agencies.