The Monsoon session saw some serious discussion in the Parliament on the various measures being taken to revamp the Indian Judiciary to lessen the existing workload. Law Minister Salman Khurshid spoke to various Rajya Sabha MPs at length about the various measures the government is taking to minimize the arrears of cases in the Higher and Lower Courts in the Indian Judiciary.
The Monsoon session saw some serious discussion in the Parliament on the various measures being taken to revamp the Indian Judiciary to lessen the existing workload. Law Minister Salman Khurshid spoke to various Rajya Sabha MPs at length about the various measures the government is taking to minimize the arrears of cases in the Higher and Lower Courts in the Indian Judiciary. D. Raja, CPI Rajya Sabha MP and the Party’s National Secretary, Dr. K. P. Ramalingam, Rajya Sabha MP and Smt. Vasanthi Stanley, Rajya Sabha MP were among the many MPs who questioned the Law Minister regarding the governmental measures in effect to mitigate the judicial workload.
The main clarifications sought by the mentioned MPs were whether there is a lot of pendency of cases (including Criminal cases) in the Courts of India, and if yes, what were the measures taken by the government to tackle this overload mess. In response to this question, Salman Khurshid went to explain in detail, the various schemes and programmes introduced by the government. Prominent among them, as explained by him were:
1. The approval of the government for setting up of a ‘National Mission for Justice Delivery and Legal Reforms’. The major goals of this Mission are:
a. Increasing access by reducing delays and arrears in the system.
b. Enhancing accountability through structural changes and by setting performance standards and capacities.
2. A Mission Mode approach to infrastructure development of subordinate judiciary is among the major initiatives under the National Mission for Justice Delivery, which is approved by the Government. Inadequacy of infrastructure in subordinate courts has been one of the bottlenecks in the speedy delivery of justice. Keeping this in mind in the financial year 2011-12, the allocation for the Centrally Sponsored Scheme for infrastructure development has been increased fivefold from 100 Crore ($22.2 million) to 500 Crore ($111 million). Funding pattern has also been increased from 50:50 (Union:State) to 75:25 for the states and to continue 90:10 for the Northern Eastern states.
3. The Government has accepted the recommendations of the Thirteenth Finance Commission to provide a grant of 5,000 Crore ($1.1 billion) to the States for improving the justice delivery system in the country over a five year period 2010-15. A grant of 1,000 Crore ($222 million) has already been released to the States during the year 2010-11. With the help of these grants, the States can, inter-alia, set up morning / evening / shift / special magistrates’ courts, appoint court managers, establish ADR centres and provide training to mediators / conciliators, organise more Lok Adalats to reduce pendencies. The grants also provide for training of judicial officers, strengthening of State Judicial Academies, training of public prosecutors and maintenance of heritage court buildings.
4. In order to computerise the justice delivery system Government is implementing e-Courts Project for the District and Subordinate Courts in the country and up gradation of ICT infrastructure in superior courts at an estimated cost of 935 crore ($207 million). The target is to computerize 12000 Courts by March 31, 2012 and 14,249 Courts by March 31, 2014. Court Management and case management can be done through National Arrears Grid created under the project.
5. The Thirteen Finance Commission while recommending a grant of 5,000 Crore ($1.1 billion) made a condition for release of 2nd year installment only after formulating State Litigation policy. State Litigation policy is to be formulated with the aim to transform government into an efficient and responsible litigant. If the cases involving government are reduced then the courts will have time to dispose of a large number of cases to achieve the target of reducing the pendency.
6. Enactment of the Gram Nyayalayas Act, 2008, which provides for establishment of Gram Nyayalayas to improve access to justice to marginalised. The current year allocation has been increased from 40 Crore ($8.8 million) to 150 Crore ($33.3 million) . So far 151 Gram Nyayalayas have been notified by the states.
7. The Hon’ble Minister of Law & Justice has requested all the Chief Justices of High Courts to launch a campaign to reduce pendency of cases in court from July-December, 2011 and also for filling up vacancies of judges in the High Courts and Subordinate Courts during the same period. Vacancies and delays are inevitably correlated, hence a campaign mode approach for filling vacancies need to be launched. At least 50% of the vacancies could be filled up in respect of subordinate courts by December 2011.
Thus, it is seen that a lot is being done at the National-level to revamp the Indian Judiciary. The Law Minister conclusively having given out the various pan-India measures in the offing with the Central government, it is to be seen whether these measures are put to effective implementation.