Minister of Justice convenes meeting to discuss development of judicial infrastructure | India News

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NEW DELHI: Law Minister Kiren Rijiju has convened a meeting of all State and Union Territory (UT) Justice Ministers next month to accelerate the development of justice infrastructure in mission mode, in particular by improving conditions in the lower courts. The issue was raised by India’s Chief Justice NV Ramana last week during the inauguration of the Aurangabad Bench Annex Building of the Bombay High Court.
The CJI had lamented the conditions of the lower judiciary where it said 26% of court compounds had no ladies’ toilets while drinking water supply was only available in 54% of them. Rijiju shared CJI’s concerns, highlighting how the Union Cabinet had recently approved Rs 9,000 crore for the modernization of judicial infrastructure across the country (from 2021-22 to 2025-26). He said the issue hits one of his government’s highest priorities.
“But this cannot be done without the help of the States. It is their responsibility to provide not only the basic infrastructure of the court complexes, but also the salaries of the judges, including the High Court judges,” said he said, adding that he had to get the States on board.
The justice ministers’ meeting will discuss a time-limited development of courtrooms, living quarters for judges and all basic facilities required in a court complex. “Thousands of judges are still living in rented accommodation, how is that acceptable,” Rijiju said, hoping the upcoming meeting with state justice ministers will yield concrete results.
Of the Rs 9,000 crore sanctioned by the Center under the centrally sponsored programs for judicial infrastructure, the Center’s share is Rs 5,307 crore, with the remainder to be contributed by the states. Rijiju said there are currently more courtrooms (20,054) than judges in the subordinate court system.
More than 4,000 new courthouses have been added in the past seven years, he said. The current strength of judges in the subordinate judiciary is 19,343 against a sanctioned strength of 24,490. However, there is a shortage of more than 1,500 residential accommodation for sitting judges.
The Minister said there had been good progress in improving the court infrastructure over the years as now a litigant does not need to visit a court complex to file a case and pay his legal costs. All of this can be done online sitting at home or in the office. The digital courts have been made possible through the government’s eCourts project which is now in its third phase and is being implemented with the help of the Supreme Court.
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