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Thursday, December 02, 2021

Judicial infra in focus, Kiren Rijiju to meet state law ministers

According to the ministry, the key agenda for the conference with law ministers is to discuss judicial infrastructure.

Written by Apurva Vishwanath | New Delhi |
Updated: October 27, 2021 7:36:49 am
Kiren RijijuKiren Rijiju. (File Photo)

FROM CONSTRUCTION of toilet complexes in courts to residential units for judicial officers, Union Minister for Law and Justice Kiren Rijiju is set to invite law ministers from all states and union territories next month to discuss ways to improve judicial infrastructure for the lower judiciary.

According to the ministry, the key agenda for the conference with law ministers is to discuss judicial infrastructure. “This is to take state governments on board since lack of adequate infrastructure will be a challenge to delivery of justice,” Rijiju said. “A number of our lower court judges live in rented accommodation and that is concerning,” he said.

The move comes in the backdrop of Chief Justice of India N V Ramana expressing concern over the state of infrastructure in the lower judiciary last week. “Good judicial infrastructure for courts in India has always been an afterthought” and “it is because of this mindset that courts in India still operate from dilapidated structures, making it difficult to effectively perform their function,” CJI Ramana had said at the inauguration of two wings of the annexe building at the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court.

“The total sanctioned strength of judicial officers in the country is 24,280 and the number of court halls available is 20,143 (including 620 rented halls)… Twenty-six per cent of court complexes do not have separate ladies toilets… Only 54% of court complexes have purified drinking water facility… only 5% have basic medical facilities,” the CJI had said. Rijiju, who was also at the event, had emphasised the need to improve judicial infrastructure to ensure ease of doing business. The ministry is also looking into the feasibility of creating a National Judicial Infrastructure Authority.

Sources said the law ministers’ conference is likely to discuss augmenting resources between states and Centre. Although states provide for budgets of subordinate judiciary, a centrally sponsored scheme is administered by the Department of Justice since 1993. In July, the Union cabinet extended the scheme for five years — from 2021-22 to 2025-26 — with an outlay of Rs 9,000 crore, of which the central share is Rs 5,307 crore. New features like lawyers’ halls, toilet complexes and digital rooms are included under the scheme. According to the ministry, an online system with geo-tagging called “Nyaya Vikas” has been set up for monitoring work. Over 2,700 court halls and residential units have been finalised. On digital infrastructure, electronic case management tools have been developed for judicial officers to improve judicial functioning, and e-filing application portals have been operationalised.

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