A meeting was held under the Chairpersonship of Secretary (Justice) to review the utilization of 13th Finance Commission grants, E-courts project, Gram Nyayalayas, infrastructure support for the subordinate judiciary, undertrial prisoners, family courts and others.
The meeting was attended by the State Finance Secretaries, Home/Law Secretaries of States, Registrar Generals, E-Committee members of Supreme Court, NIC, Member Secretary National Legal Service Authority (NLSA) and concerned Government of India officials from Department of Expenditure and Ministry of Law & Justice.
The 13th Finance Commission Award provided Rs. 5000 crore allocation to the States for improving justice delivery through pendency reduction for the period of 2010-15 and grant of Rs. 1000 crore has already been released in the year 2010-11. The States progress with regard to State Litigation Policy, Action Plan and Perspective Plan with a view to reduce pendency through Morning/Evening courts, Lok Adalats, Legal Aid, ADR Centres, Judicial Academies, Heritage buildings, Training of Public Prosecutors and Judicial officers and appointment of Court Managers was discussed. Several of the States have made progress on different components. Government of India had already provided needed flexibility to move funds from one component to another component on the basis of local requirements and issued guidelines, this was discussed with States to ensure speedy implementation and addressing the specific needs of the States.
E-courts project a Mission Mode Project for ICT enablement in courts being implemented at a cost of Rs. 935 crores. The scope of the Project covers 14249 courts across the country to be provided computer hardware, LAN, power backup, WAN through SWAN/ NICNET, deployment of software to provide services for automation of case management, citizen centric services such as case filing certified copies of orders and creating National Judicial Data Grid. During implementation phase as well as after two years when support from Government of India terminates was also highlighted and discussed in detail. The hardware and software installation progress in various High Courts was discussed and the Registrar Generals were requested to take immediate steps regarding backlog data entry and deploying of technical manpower. Activities planned for the financial year 2010-11 were also discussed with them and full computerization is targeted for 5 high readiness States i.e. Punjab & Haryana, J&K, West Bengal, Kerala and Himachal Pradesh by May-June, 2011. It was also emphasized that all efforts be made to complete the target of covering 12000 courts across the country by March, 2012.
Government of India has increased the allocation almost five folds from Rs. 110 crores to Rs. 542 crores for the Centrally Sponsored Schemes on infrastructure development of the courts. Progress of utilization of last years’ assistance was reviewed. The States were also requested to prepare plans for infrastructure development in a projectized manner with a timeline, in consultation with High Courts for the year 2011-12 to effectively utilize the increased allocation.
Similarly, Government of India has increased the funds allocation from Rs. 40 crores to Rs. 150 crores for the establishment of Gram Nyayalayas across the country. Many States are in the process of establishing Gram Nyayalayas in their States would soon be sending the proposal for Central assistance which consist one time non-recurring assistance @ Rs. 18 lakh and recurring assistance @ Rs. 3 lakh for three years per Gram Nyayalaya.
Progress in respect of establishment of Family Courts by State Government was also reviewed. Department of Justice also discussed undertrial prisoners programme for streamlining the process and requested States to appoint a Nodal Officer for providing data in a prescribed format every quarter of the year.