- K. K. Pant
Several initiatives have been taken from time to time to improve the justice delivery system and for making it affordable and accessible to the common man all across the country. Increasing access by reducing delays and arrears in the system has also been the constant endeavor of the Union Government. These initiatives of the Union Government inter-alia include measures for strengthening the judicial system, reviewing the strength of the judges from time to time and setting up of part time/special courts, improving infrastructure in the courts and increasing use of ICT for court management as well as for providing citizen-centric services at all levels starting from Supreme Court/ High Courts to the district and subordinate courts. Some of the initiatives are as follows:
- The disposal of cases has been accelerated by undertaking special drives, the recent one being from 1st July, 2011 to 31st December, 2011. Of late, the Government has set up a National Mission for Justice Delivery and Legal Reforms which will be addressing the issues of delays and arrears in the judicial system as well enforcing better accountability at all levels through a variety of methods which will include setting and monitoring of performance standard, enhancement of capacity through training at various levels etc.
- Fast Track Courts were constituted as per the recommendations of the 11th Finance Commission. For these courts a provision of Rs. 502.90 crore was made for 2000-05. This scheme was extended later till 2010-11. As per the reports received, 1192 fast track courts were functional in the country as on 31.3.2011. Nearly 33 lakh cases were disposed of by the fast track courts over a period of 11 years of central assistance from 2000-01 to 2010-11.
The 13th Finance Commission has recommended a grant of Rs.5,000 crore for the states over a period of 5 years between 2010-2015. The amount will be provided as a grant to the States for various initiatives such as:
(i) Increasing the number of court working hours using the existing infrastructure by holding morning / evening / shift courts;
(ii) Enhancing support to Lok Adalats to reduce the pressure on regular courts;
(iii) Providing additional funds to State Legal Services Authorities to enable them to enhance legal aid to the marginalized and empower them to access justice;
(iv) Promoting the Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanism to resolve part of the disputes outside the court system;
(v) Enhancing capacity of judicial officers and public prosecutors through training programmes;
(vi) Supporting creation or strengthening of a judicial academy in each State to facilitate such training;
(vii) Creation of the post of Court Managers in every judicial district and High Courts to assist the judiciary in their administrative functions; and
(viii) Maintenance of heritage court buildings.
An amount of Rs. 1,353.623 crore has already been released to the States on this account.
- Under the central sector scheme of Computerization of the District and Subordinate Courts (e-Courts Project) in the country and for up-gradation of the ICT infrastructure of the Supreme Court and the High Courts, a total of 9,914 courts (out of 14,229 courts) have been computerized in the country as on 31.03.2012. Remaining courts will be computerized by 31.3.2014. In the second phase, digitization, library management, e-filing and establishment of data warehouse are expected to be added to the ongoing computerization and citizen-centric services.
- The Gram Nyayalayas Act, 2008 has been enacted for establishment of Gram Nyayalayas at the grassroots level for providing access to justice to citizens at their doorstep. The Central Government is providing assistance to States towards non-recurring expenses for setting up of Gram Nyayalayas subject to a ceiling of Rs. 18.00 lakh per Gram Nyayalaya. The Central Government also provides assistance towards recurring expenses for running these Gram Nyayalayas subject to a ceiling of Rs. 3.20 lakh per Gram Nyayalaya per year for the first three years. As per the information received from the State Governments a total of 153 Gram Nyayalayas have already been notified so far. Out of these, 151 Gram Nyayalayas have already started functioning. An amount of Rs. 25.39 crore has been released to the State Governments for establishment of Gram Nyayalayas during last three years.
- A Centrally Sponsored Scheme for development of infrastructure facilities for the judiciary is being implemented since 1993-94 under which central assistance for construction of court buildings and residential quarters for judicial officers is released to augment the resources of the State Governments. The expenditure on the scheme is shared by the Centre and the State Governments on 75:25 basis, except for States in North East Region, which is on 90:10 basis. An expenditure of Rs. 1,841 crore has been incurred on this scheme up to 31.03.2012.
- For legal empowerment of the marginalized people in India an externally aided Project ‘Access to Justice for Marginalized People in India’ is being implemented in the selected 7 States, with the support of UNDP. These 7 States are: Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. The interventions under the Project are focused on strengthening access to justice for the poor, particularly women, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and minorities. The Project seeks, on the one hand, to improve the institutional capacities of key justice service providers to enable them to effectively serve the poor and disadvantaged. On the other hand, it aims to directly empower the poor and disadvantaged men and women to seek and demand justice services.
Source : Press Information Bureau