Justice Minister Kiren Rijiju to discuss court facilities with state ministers

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Days after Chief Justice of India (CJI) N.V. Ramana said judicial infrastructure was key to improving access to justice, Justice Minister Kiren Rijiju said on Tuesday the issue would be addressed next month at a conference of state justice ministers.

“Judicial infrastructure is one of the items on the agenda of the meeting… It is my responsibility to engage state governments,” Rijiju said. The Hindu.

Under state governments

The development of the physical infrastructure of the High Courts and lower courts is primarily the domain of state governments.

On October 23, during the inauguration of two wings of the Aurangabad Bench annex building of the Bombay High Court, Chief Justice Ramana called on the government to bring the National Judicial Infrastructure Authority project of India (NJIAI) to the winter session of Parliament and to give it’s statutory support.

The CJI, in the presence of the Union Law Minister, had said that judicial infrastructure was often an afterthought and carried out on an ad hoc basis.

“We are faced with certain concrete facts, such as several courts that do not have adequate facilities. Some courts operate in dilapidated buildings. Judicial infrastructure is important for improving access to justice,” said Justice Ramana.

Justice Department sources, however, claimed that the conference of state justice ministers was scheduled even before the CJI made remarks on the court infrastructure.

Central funds

The sources cited above pointed out that in July, the Union cabinet granted a five-year extension to a center-sponsored program (CSS) for the development of infrastructure for the judicial system.

The CSS, in operation from 1993-1994, has budgeted ₹9,000 crore for the five-year period between April 1, 2021 and March 31, 2026 and of this amount, ₹5,357 crore would be the Centre’s share, of which 50 crore ₹ for the Gram Nyayalaya Scheme.

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